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Copyright, 1903, by 
Charles Scribnek's Sons 

Published October, 1903 




i My First Command and the Outbreak op the War 

A company of mountaineers — Joe Brown's pikes — The Rac- 
coon Roughs — The first Rebel yell — A flag presented to the 
company — Arrival at Montgomery, Alabama— Analysis of the 
causes of the war — Slavery's part in it — Liberty in the Union 
of the States, and liberty in the independence of the States . 3 

ii The Trip from Corinth 

The Raccoon Roughs made a part of the Sixth Alabama— The 
journey to Virginia — Families divided in Tennessee, Ken- 
tucky, and Missouri — A father captured by a son in battle — The 
military spirit in Virginia — Andrew Johnson and Parson Brown- 
low Union leaders in Tennessee — Johnson's narrowness after- 
ward exhibited as President 26 

hi Bull Run or Manassas 

The first great battle of the war — A series of surprises — Mis- 
haps and mistakes of the Confederates— Beauregard's lost 
order— General Ewell's rage— The most eccentric officer in the 
Confederate army— Anecdotes of his career— The wild panic 
of the Union troops — Senseless frights that cannot be ex- 
plained—Illustrated at Cedar Creek 37 

rv The Spring of 1862— Battle of Seven Pines or 
Fair Oaks 

Indomitable Americanism, North and South— Rally of the 
North after Bull Run — Severity of winter quarters in Virginia 
— McClellan's army landed at Yorktown— Retreat of the Con- 
federates—On the Chickahominy— Terrible slaughter at Seven 
Pines— A brigade commander 47 

v Presentiments and Fatalism among Soldiers 

Wonderful instances of prophetic foresight— Colonel Lomax 
predicts his death— The vision of a son dying two days before 



it happened— General Ramseur's furlough— Colonel Augustus 
Gordon's calm announcement of his death — Instances of mis- 
placed fatalism— General D. H. Hill's indifference to danger . 60 

vi Battle op Malvern Hill 

Continuous fighting between McClellan's and Lee's armies— 
Hurried burial of the dead— How "Stonewall" Jackson got 
his name— The secret of his wonderful power — The predica- 
ment of my command at Malvern Hill — A fruitless wait for re- 
enforcements— Character the basis of true courage — Anecdote 
of General Polk 70 

vn Antietam 

Restoration of McClellan to command of the Federals— My 
command at General Lee's centre — Remarkable series of bay- 
onet charges by the Union troops — How the centre was held — 
Bravery of the Union commander— A long struggle for life . 80 

VIII Chancellorsville 

A long convalescence— Enlivened by the author of "Georgia 
Scenes" — The movement upon Hooker's army at Chancellors- 
ville— Remarkable interview between Lee and Stonewall 
Jackson— The secret of Jackson's character— The storming of 
Marye's Heights— Some famous war-horses 92 

ix War by the Brave against the Brave 

The spirit of good-fellowship between Union and Confederate 
soldiers— Disappearance of personal hatred as the war pro- 
gressed—The Union officer who attended a Confederate dance 
—American chivalry at Vicksburg — Trading between pickets 
on the Rappahannock— Incidents of the bravery of color-bearers 
on both sides — General Curtis's kindness — A dash for life 
cheered by the enemy 105 

x Retrospective View op Leaders and Events 

Confederate victories up to the winter of 1863— Southern con- 
fidence in ultimate independence— Progress of Union armies 
in the West— Fight for the control of the Mississippi— General 
Butler in possession of New Orleans — The new era in naval 
construction— Significance of the battle of the Monitor and 
Merrimac— Great leaders who had come into prominence in 
both armies— The death of Albert Sidney Johnston— General 
Lee the most unassuming of great commanders 120 

xi Gettysburg 

Why General Lee crossed the Potomac— The movement into 
Pennsylvania— Incidents of the march to the Susquehanna— 



The first day at Gettysburg— Union forces driven back— The 
key of the position — Why the Confederates did not seize Cem- 
etery Ridge— A defence of General Lee's strategy— The fight at 
Little Round Top— The immortal charge of Pickett's men- 
General Meade's deliberate pursuit— Lee's request to be 
relieved 137 


The four most crowded and decisive days of the war— Vicks- 
burg the culmination of Confederate disaster— Frequent change 
of commanders in the Trans-Mississippi Department— General 
Grant's tunnel at Fort Hill— Courage of Pemberton's soldiers- 
Explosion of the mine — Hand-to-hand conflict — The surrender 177 

xin From Vicksburg and Gettysburg to Chickamauga 

Lee's army again headed toward Washington— He decides not 
to cross the Potomac at the opening of winter — Meade's coun- 
ter-attack — Capture of a redoubt on the Rappahannock — A 
criticism of Secretary Stanton— General Bragg's strategy- 
How Rosecrans compelled the evacuation of Chattanooga . . 188 

xrv Chickamauga 

One of the bloodiest battles of modern times — Comparison 
with other great battles of the world— Movements of both 
armies before the collision — A bird's-eye view — The night 
after the battle— General Thomas's brave stand— How the 
assault of Longstreet's wing was made— Both sides claim a 
victory 198 

xv Missionary Ridge— Triune Disaster 

Why General Bragg did not pursue Rosecrans after Chicka- 
mauga— Comparison of the Confederates at Missionary Ridge 
with the Greeks at Marathon — The Battle above the Clouds— 
Heroic advance by Walthall's Mississippians — General Grant's 
timely arrival with reinforcements— The way opened to Atlanta 213 

xvi Winter on the Rapidan 

In camp near Clark's Mountain — Religious awakening — Re- 
vival services throughout the camps— General Lee's interest in 
the movement— Southern women at work— Extracts from Gen- 
eral Lee's letters to his , wife— Influence of religion on the 
soldiers' character , . . . 229 

xvii The "Wilderness— Battle op May 5 

Beginning of the long fight between Grant and Lee— Grant 
crosses the Rapidan— First contact of the two armies— Ewell's 



repulse— A rapid countercharge— A strange predicament— The 
Union centre broken — Unprecedented movement which saved 
the Confederate troops 235 

xvin The Wilderness— Battle of May 6 

The men ordered to sleep on their arms— Eeport of scouts — 
Sedgwick's exposed position— A plan proposed to flank and 
crush him— General Early's objections to it— Unfounded belief 
that Burnside protected Sedgwick— General Lee orders a move- 
ment in the late afternoon— Its success until interrupted by 
darkness— The Government official records prove that Early 
was mistaken 243 

xix Results of the Drawn Battles 

General Grant the aggressor— Failure to dislodge Lee— An ex- 
citing night ride— Surrounded by Federal troops— A narrow 
escape in the darkness— General Lee's comments on the as- 
sault upon Sedgwick— A remarkable prediction as to General 
Grant's next movement 262 

XX Spottsylvania 

General Lee's prophecy fulfilled— Hancock's assault on May 12 
—One of his greatest achievements— General Lee to the head 
of the column— Turned back by his own men — Hancock re- 
pulsed—The most remarkable battle of the war— Heroism on 
both sides 271 

xxi Movements after Spottsylvania 

A surprising capture— Kind treatment received by prisoners 
—Five rainy days of inaction— Fighting resumed on May 18— 
Hancock's corps ordered to the assault— General Grant's order 
to Meade: "Where Lee goes, there you will go also" — How 
Lee turned the tables — Fighting it out on this line all summer 
— Lee's men still resolute after the Wilderness 287 

xxn Hunter's Raid and Early's Chase 

The movement upon Lynchburg— Hunter's sudden panic — 
Devastation in the Valley — Burning of private homes — Lee's 
orders against destruction of private property— Washington 
threatened — The battle of Monocacy— A brave charge — The 
defeat of General Lew Wallace 300 

xxm Winchester and Preceding Events 

The Confederate army within sight of Washington— The city 
could have been taken— Reasons for the retreat— Abandon- 
ment of plan to release Confederate prisoners— The Winchester 



campaign — Assault on Sheridan's front— Sudden rally— Re- 
treat of Early's army— The battle of Fisher's Hill 314 

xxiv Cedar Creek— A Victory and a Defeat 

Sheridan's dallying for twenty-six days— Arrival of General 
Kershaw— Position of Early's army with reference to Sheri- 
dan's—The outlook from Massanutten Mountain— Weakness 
of Sheridan's left revealed— The plan of battle— A midnight 
march— Complete surprise and rout of Sheridan's army— Early's 
decision not to follow up the victory— Why Sheridan's ride 
succeeded— Victory changed into defeat 327 

xxv The Fatal Halt at Cedar Creek 

Analysis of the great mistake— Marshalling of testimony — 
Documentary proof of the error — Early's " glory enough for 
one day" theory — What eye-witnesses say— The defence of 
the Confederate soldier— A complete vindication ..... 352 

xxvi The Last Winter of the War 

Frequent skirmishes follow Cedar Creek— Neither commander 
anxious for a general engagement— Desolation in the Valley — 
A fated family — Transferred to Petersburg— A gloomy Christ- 
mas — All troops on reduced rations— Summoned to Lee's head- 
quarters—Consideration of the dire straits of the army — Three 
possible courses 373 

xxvii Capture of Fort Stedman 

In the trenches at Petersburg— General Lee's instructions — A 
daring plan formed — Preparations for a night assault — An in- 
genious war ruse — The fort captured with small loss — Failure 
of reinforcements to arrive — Loss of guides — Necessary with- 
drawal from the fort— The last effort to break Grant's hold . 395 

xxviii Evacuation of Petersburg 

Religious spirit of the soldiers in extremity — Some amusing 
anecdotes— Fall of Five Forks— Death of General A. P. Hill— 
The line of defence stretched to breaking— General Lee's order 
to withdraw from Petersburg— Continuous fighting during the 
retreat — Stirring adventure of a Confederate scout— His re- 
taliation—Lee directs the movement toward Appomattox . . 414 

xxix The Surrender 

The Army of Northern Virginia reduced to a skeleton— Gen- 
eral Lee's calm bearing— The last Confederate council of war 
— Decision upon a final attempt to break Grant's lines— The 
last charge of the war— Union breastworks carried — A fruitless 



victory— Flag of truce sent to General Ord— Conference with 
General Sheridan— An armistice 429 

xxx The End of the War 

Appomattox— 25,000 men surrender— Only 8000 able to bear 
arms— Uniform courtesy of the victorious Federals— A salute 
for the vanquished— What Lincoln might have done— General 
Sherman's liberal terms to Johnston— An estimate of General 
Lee and General Grant— The war and the reunited country . 443 



From a photograph taken at the close of the war, when he was thirty- three 
years of age. 

Facing page 


Drawn by George T. Tobin from a daguerreotype taken at the age of 


From a photograph taken in 1896, when he represented Georgia in the 
United States Senate. 


For many years I have been urged to place on 
record my reminiscences of the war between the 
States. In undertaking the task now, it is not my 
purpose to attempt a comprehensive description of 
that great struggle, nor an elaborate analysis of 
the momentous interests and issues involved. The 
time may not have arrived for a full and fair his- 
tory of that most interesting period in the Repub- 
lic's life. The man capable of writing it with 
entire justice to both sides is perhaps yet unborn. 
He may appear, however, at a future day, fully 
equipped for the great work. If endowed with the 
requisite breadth and clearness of view, with in- 
flexible mental integrity and absolute freedom from 
all bias, he will produce the most instructive and 
thrilling record in the world's deathless annals, and 
cannot fail to make a contribution of measureless 
value to the American people and to the cause of 
free government throughout the world. 

Conscious of my own inability to meet the de- 
mands of so great an undertaking, I have not at- 
tempted it, but with an earnest desire to contribute 



something toward such future history these remi- 
niscences have been written. I have endeavored 
to make my review of that most heroic era so con- 
densed as to claim the attention of busy people, 
and so impartial as to command the confidence of 
the fair-minded in all sections. It has been my 
fixed purpose to make a brief but dispassionate 
and judicially fair analysis of the divergent opin- 
ions and ceaseless controversies which for half a 
century produced an ever-widening alienation be- 
tween the sections, and which finally plunged into 
the fiercest and bloodiest of fratricidal wars a 
great and enlightened people who were of the same 
race, supporters of the same Constitution, and joint 
heirs of the same freedom. I have endeavored to 
demonstrate that the courage displayed and the 
ratio of losses sustained were unprecedented in 
modern warfare. I have also recorded in this vol- 
ume a large number of those characteristic and 
thrilling incidents which illustrate a unique and 
hitherto unwritten phase of the war, the story of 
which should not be lost, because it is luminous 
with the noblest lessons. Many of these incidents 
came under my own observation. They marked 
every step of the war's progress, were often wit- 
nessed by both armies, and were of almost daily 
occurrence in the camps, on the marches, and 
between the lines; increasing in frequency and 
pathos as the war progressed, and illustrating the 


distinguishing magnanimity and lofty manhood of 
the American soldier. 

It will be found, I trust, that no injustice has 
been done to either section, to any army, or to any 
of the great leaders, but that the substance and 
spirit of the following pages will tend rather to lift 
to a higher plane the estimate placed by victors 
and vanquished upon their countrymen of the op- 
posing section, and thus strengthen the sentiment 
of intersectional fraternity which is essential to 
complete national unity. 

J. B. Gokdon. 




A company of mountaineers— Joe Brown's pikes— The Raccoon Roughs 
—The first Rebel yell— A flag presented to the company— Arrival at 
Montgomery, Alabama— Analysis of the causes of the war — Slavery's 
part in it— Liberty in the Union of the States, and liberty in the in- 
dependence of the States. 

THE outbreak of war found me in the mountains of 
Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, engaged in the 
development of coal-mines. This does not mean that I 
was a citizen of three States ; but it does mean that I 
lived so near the lines that my mines were in Georgia, 
my house in Alabama, and my post-office in Tennessee. 
The first company of soldiers, therefore, with which I 
entered the service was composed of stalwart moun- 
taineers from the three States. I had been educated 
for the bar and for a time practised law in Atlanta. In 
September, 1854, I had married Miss Fanny Haralson, 
third daughter of General Hugh A. Haralson, of La 
Grange, Georgia. The wedding occurred on her seven- 
teenth birthday and when I was but twenty- two. We 
had two children, both boys. The struggle between de- 
votion to my family on the one hand and duty to my 
country on the other was most trying to my sensibili- 
ties. My spirit had been caught up by the flaming en- 
thusiasm that swept like a prairie-fire through the land, 
and I hastened to unite with the brave men of the moun- 
tains in organizing a company of volunteers. But what 



was I to do with the girl- wife and the two little boys! 
The wife and mother was no less taxed in her effort to 
settle this momentous question. But finally yielding to 
the promptings of her own heart and to her unerring 
sense of duty, she ended doubt as to what disposition 
was to be made of her by announcing that she intended 
to accompany me to the war, leaving her children with 
my mother and faithful "Mammy Mary." I rejoiced at 
her decision then, and had still greater reasons for re- 
joicing at it afterward, when I felt through every fiery 
ordeal the inspiration of her near presence, and had, at 
need, the infinite comfort of her tender nursing. 

The mountaineers did me the honor to elect me their 
captain. It was the first office I had ever held, and I 
verily believed it would be the last ; for I expected to 
fight with these men till the war ended or until I should 
be killed. Our first decision was to mount and go as 
cavalry. We had not then learned, as we did later, the 
full meaning of that war-song, " If you want to have a 
good time, jine the cavalry" ; but like most Southerners 
we were inured to horseback, and all preferred that great 
arm of the service. 

This company of mounted men was organized as soon 
as a conflict seemed probable and prior to any call for 
volunteers. They were doomed to a disappointment, 
" No cavalry now needed " was the laconic and stunning 
reply to the offer of our services. What was to be done, 
was the perplexing question. The proposition to wait 
until mounted men were needed was promptly negatived 
by the suggestion that we were so far from any point 
where a battle was likely to occur, and so hidden from 
view by the surrounding mountains, that we might be 
forgotten and the war might end before we had a chance. 

" Let us dismount and go at once as infantry." This 
proposition was carried with a shout and by an almost 
unanimous vote. My own vote and whatever influence 


I possessed were given in favor of the suggestion, al- 
though my desire for cavalry service had grown to a 
passion. Accustomed to horseback on my father's plan- 
tation from my early childhood, and with an untutored 
imagination picturing the wild sweep of my chargers 
upon belching batteries and broken lines of infantry, it 
was to me, as well as to my men, a sad descent from 
dashing cavalry to a commonplace company of slow, 
plodding foot-soldiers. Reluctantly, therefore, we aban- 
doned our horses, and in order certainly to reach the 
point of action before the war was over, we resolved to 
go at once to the front as infantry, without waiting for 
orders, arms, or uniforms. Not a man in the company 
had the slightest military training, and the captain him- 
self knew very little of military tactics. 

The new government that was to be formed had no 
standing army as a nucleus around which the volunteers 
could be brought into compact order, with a centre of 
disciplined and thoroughly drilled soldiery; and the 
States which were to form it had but few arms, and no 
artisans or factories to supply them. The old-fashioned 
squirrel rifles and double-barrelled shot-guns were called 
into requisition. Governor Joseph E. Brown, of Georgia, 
put shops in the State to work, making what were called 
" Joe Brown's pikes." They were a sort of rude bayo- 
net, or steel lance, fastened, not to guns, but to long 
poles or handles, and were to be given to men who had 
no other arms. Of course, few if any of these pikemen 
ever had occasion to use these warlike implements, which 
were worthy of the Middle Ages, but those who bore 
them were as gallant knights as ever levelled a lance in 
close quarters. I may say that very few bayonets of 
any kind were actually used in battle, so far as my ob- 
servation extended. The one line or the other usually 
gave way under the galling fire of small arms, grape, 
and canister, before the bayonet could be brought into 


requisition. The bristling points and the glitter of the 
bayonets were fearful to look upon as they were levelled 
in front of a charging line ; but they were rarely red- 
dened with blood. The day of the bayonet is passed 
except for use in hollow squares, or in resisting cavalry 
charges, or as an implement in constructing light and 
temporary fortifications. It may still serve a purpose 
in such emergencies or to impress the soldier's imagina- 
tion, as the loud-sounding and ludicrous gongs are sup- 
posed to stiffen the backs and steady the nerves of the 
grotesque soldiers of China. Of course, Georgia's able 
war governor did not contemplate any very serious 
execution with these pikes ; but the volunteers came in 
such numbers and were so eager for the fray that some- 
thing had to be done ; and this device served its purpose. 
It at least shows the desperate straits in securing arms 
to which the South was driven, even after seizing the 
United States arsenals within the Confederate territory. 
The irrepressible humor and ready rustic wit which 
afterward relieved the tedium of the march and broke 
the monotony of the camp, and which, like a star in the 
darkness, seemed to grow more brilliant as the gloom of 
war grew denser, had already begun to sparkle in the 
intercourse of the volunteers. A woodsman who was 
noted as a "crack shot" among his hunting companions 
felt sure that he was going to win fame as a select rifle- 
man in the army ; for he said that in killing a squirrel 
he always put the bullet through the head, though the 
squirrel might be perched at the time on the topmost 
limb of the tallest tree. An Irishman who had seen ser- 
vice in the Mexican War, and was attentively listening 
to this young hunter's boast, fixed his twinkling eye 
upon the aspiring rifleman and said to him : " Yes ; but 
Dan, me boy, ye must ricollict that the squirrel had no 
gon in his hand to shoot back at ye." The young hunts- 
man had not thought about that ; but he doubtless found 


later on, as the marksmen of both armies did, that it 
made a vast difference in the accuracy of aim when 
those in front not only had " gons " in their hands, but 
were firing them with distracting rapidity. This rude 
Irish philosopher had explained in a sentence one cause 
of the wild and aimless firing which wasted more tons 
of lead in a battle than all its dead victims would weigh. 

There was at the outbreak of the war and just pre- 
ceding it a class of men both North and South over 
whose inconsistencies the thoughtful, self-poised, and 
determined men who did the fighting made many jokes, 
as the situation grew more serious. It was that class of 
men in both sections who were most resolute in words 
and most prudent in acts; who urged the sections to 
the conflict and then did little to help them out of it; 
who, like the impatient war-horse, snuffed the battle 
from afar — very far : but who, when real war began to 
roll its crimson tide nearer and nearer to them, came to 
the conclusion that it was better for the country, as well 
as for themselves, to labor in other spheres ; and that it 
was their duty, as America's great humorist put it, to 
sacrifice not themselves but their wives' relations on 
patriotism's altar. One of these furious leaders at the 
South declared that if we would secede from the Union 
there would be no war, and if there should be a war, we 
could "whip the Yankees with children's pop-guns." 
When, after the war, this same gentleman was address- 
ing an audience, he was asked by an old maimed sol- 
dier : " Say, Judge, ain't you the same man that told us 
before the war that we could whip the Yankees with 
pop-guns ! " 

" Yes," replied the witty speaker, " and we could, but, 
confound 'em, they would n't fight us that way." 

My company, dismounted and ready for infantry ser- 
vice, did not wait for orders to move, but hastily bid- 
ding adieu to home and kindred, were off for Milledge- 


ville, then capital of Georgia. At Atlanta a telegram 
from the governor met us, telling us to go back home, 
and stay there until our services were needed. Our dis- 
comfiture can be better imagined than described. In 
fact, there broke out at once in my ranks a new rebel- 
lion. These rugged mountaineers resolved that they 
would not go home ; that they had a right to go to the 
war, had started to the war, and were not going to be 
trifled with by the governor or any one else. Finally, 
after much persuasion, and by the cautious exercise of 
the authority vested in me by my office of captain, I 
prevailed on them to get on board the home-bound 
train. As the engine-bell rang and the whistle blew for 
the train to start, the rebellion broke loose again with 
double fury. The men rushed to the front of the train, 
uncoupled the cars from the engine, and gravely in- 
formed me that they had reconsidered and were not 
going back ; that they intended to go to the war, and 
that if Governor Brown would not accept them, some 
other governor would. Prophetic of future dash as this 
wild impetuosity might be, it did not give much promise 
of soldierly discipline ; but I knew my men and did not 
despair. I was satisfied that the metal in them was the 
best of steel and only needed careful tempering. 

They disembarked and left the empty cars on the 
track, with the trainmen looking on in utter amazement. 
There was no course left me but to march them through 
the streets of Atlanta to a camp on the outskirts. The 
march, or rather straggle, through that city was a sight 
marvellous to behold and never to be forgotten. Totally 
undisciplined and undrilled, no two of these men marched 
abreast ; no two kept the same step ; no two wore the 
same colored coats or trousers. The only pretence at 
uniformity was the rough fur caps made of raccoon 
skins, with long, bushy, streaked raccoon tails hanging 
from behind them. The streets were packed with men, 


women, and children, eager to catch a glimpse of this 
grotesque company. Naturally we were the observed of 
all observers. Curiosity was on tip-toe, and from the 
crowded sidewalks there came to me the inquiry, " Are 
you the captain of that company, sir?" With a pride 
which I trust was pardonable, I indicated that I was. 
In a moment there came to me the second inquiry, 
" What company is that, sir ? " Up to this time no name 
had been chosen — at least, none had been announced to 
the men. I had myself, however, selected a name which 
I considered both poetic and appropriate, and I replied 
to the question, " This company is the Mountain Rifles." 
Instantly a tall mountaineer said in a tone not intended 
for his captain, but easily overheard by his companions 
and the bystanders : " Mountain hell ! we are no Moun- 
tain Rifles ; we are the Raccoon Roughs." It is scarcely 
necessary to say that my selected name was never heard 
of again. This towering Ajax had killed it by a single 
blow. The name he gave us clung to the company 
during all of its long and faithful service. 

Once in camp, we kept the wires hot with telegrams 
to governors of other States, imploring them to give us 
a chance. Governor Moore, of Alabama, finally re- 
sponded, graciously consenting to incorporate the cap- 
tain of the " Raccoon Roughs " and his coon-capped 
company into one of the regiments soon to be organized. 
The reading of this telegram evoked from my men the 
first wild Rebel yell it was my fortune to hear. Even 
then it was weird and thrilling. Through all the stages 
of my subsequent promotions, in all the battles in which 
I was engaged, this same exhilarating shout from these 
same trumpet-like throats rang in my ears, growing 
fainter and fainter as these heroic men became fewer 
and fewer at the end of each bloody day's work ; and 
when the last hour of the war came, in the last desperate 
charge at Appomattox, the few and broken remnants of 


the Raccoon Roughs were still near their first captain's 
side, cheering him with the dying echoes of that first 
yell in the Atlanta camp. 

Alabama's governor had given us the coveted " chance," 
and with bounding hearts we joined the host of volunteers 
then rushing to Montgomery. The line of our travel 
was one unbroken scene of enthusiasm. Bonfires blazed 
from the hills at night, and torch-light processions, with 
drums and fifes, paraded the streets of the towns. In 
the absence of real cannon, blacksmiths' anvils were 
made to thunder our welcome. Vast throngs gathered 
at the depots, filling the air with their shoutings, and 
bearing banners with all conceivable devices, proclaim- 
ing Southern independence, and pledging the last dollar 
and man for the success of the cause. Staid matrons 
and gayly bedecked maidens rushed upon the cars, 
pinned upon our lapels the blue cockades, and cheered 
us by chanting in thrilling chorus : 

In Dixie-land I take my stand 
To live and die in Dixie. 

At other points they sang " The Bonnie Blue Flag," and 
the Raccoon Roughs, as they were thenceforward known, 
joined in the transporting chorus : 

Hurrah, hurrah, for Southern rights hurrah ! 

Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star ! 

The Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, who had been 
Speaker of the National House of Representatives, and 
United States senator, and who afterward became the 
Confederate Secretary of State and one of the Hampton 
Roads commissioners to meet President Lincoln and the 
Federal representatives, was travelling upon the same 
train that carried my company to Montgomery. This 
famous and venerable statesman, on his way to Alabama's 
capital to aid in organizing the new Government, made, 


in answer to the popular demand, a number of speeches 
at the different stations. His remarks on these occa- 
sions were usually explanatory of the South's attitude in 
the threatened conflict. They were concise, clear, and 
forcible. The people did not need argument ; but they 
applauded his every utterance, as he carefully described 
the South's position as one not of aggression but purely 
of defence ; discussed the doctrine promulgated in the 
Declaration of the Fathers, that all governments derive 
their just powers from the consent of the governed; as- 
serted the sovereignty of the States, and their right to 
peaceably assume that sovereignty, as evidenced by the 
declaration of New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia 
when they entered the Union ; explained the protection 
given the South's peculiar property by the plain provi- 
sions of the Constitution and the laws ; urged the neces- 
sity of separation both for Southern security and the 
permanent peace of the sections; and closed with the 
declaration that, while there was no trace of authority 
in the Constitution for the invasion and coercion of a 
sovereign State, yet it was the part of prudence and of 
patriotism to prepare for defence in case of necessity. 

Although I was a young man, yet, as the only captain 
on board, it fell to my lot also to respond to frequent 
calls. In the midst of this wild excitement and bound- 
less enthusiasm, I was induced to make some promises 
which I afterward found inconvenient and even impos- 
sible to fulfil. A flag was presented bearing a most em- 
barrassing motto. That motto consisted of two words : 
" No Retreat." I was compelled to accept it. There was, 
indeed, no retreat for me then ; and in my speech ac- 
cepting the flag I assured the fair donors that those 
coon-capped boys would make that motto ring with their 
cracking rifles on every battle-field ; and in the ardor 
and inexperience of my young manhood, I related to 
these ladies and to the crowds at the depot the story of 


the little drummer-boy of Switzerland who, when cap- 
tured and ordered to beat upon his drum a retreat, 
proudly replied, " Switzerland knows no such music ! n 
Gathering additional inspiration from the shouts and 
applause which the story evoked, I exclaimed, "And 
these brave mountaineers and the young Confederacy, 
like glorious little Switzerland, will never know a re- 
treat ! " My men applauded and sanctioned this out- 
burst of inconsiderate enthusiasm, but we learned better 
after a while. A little sober experience vastly modified 
and assuaged our youthful impetuosity. War is a won- 
derful developer, as well as destroyer, of men ; and our 
four years of tuition in it equalled in both these par- 
ticulars at least forty years of ordinary schooling. The 
first battle carried us through the rudimentary course 
of a military education ; and several months before the 
four years' course was ended, the thoughtful ones began 
to realize that though the expense account had been 
great, it had at least reasonably well prepared us for 
final graduation, and for receiving the brief little diploma 
handed to us at Appomattox. 

If any apology be needed for my pledge to the patri- 
otic women who presented the little flag with the big 
motto, "No Retreat," it must be found in the depth of 
the conviction that our cause was just. From great 
leaders and constitutional expounders, from schools and 
colleges, from debates in Congress, in the convention 
that adopted the Constitution, and from discussions on 
the hustings, we had learned the lesson of the sovereignty 
of the States. We had imbibed these political principles 
from our childhood. We were, therefore, prepared to 
defend them, ready to die for them, and it was impos- 
sible at the beginning for us to believe that they would 
be seriously and forcibly assailed. 

But I must return to our trip to Montgomery. We 
reached that city at night to find it in a hubbub over 


the arrival of enthusiastic, shouting volunteers. The 
hotels and homes were crowded with visiting statesmen 
and private citizens, gathered by a common impulse 
around the cradle of the new-born Confederacy. There 
was a determined look on every face, a fervid prayer on 
every lip, and a bounding hope in every heart. There 
was the rumbling of wagons distributing arms and ammu- 
nition at every camp, and the tramping of freshly enlisted 
men on every street. There was a roar of cannon on 
the hills and around the Capitol booming welcome to 
the incoming patriots ; and all nature seemed palpitating 
in sympathy with the intensity of popular excitement. 
It fell to the lot of the Raccoon Roughs to be assigned 
to the Sixth Alabama Regiment, and, contrary to my 
wishes and most unexpectedly to me, I was unanimously 
elected major. 

When my company of mountaineers reached Mont- 
gomery, the Provisional Government of the "Confed- 
erate States of America" had been organized. At first 
it was composed only of six States: South Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 
The States of Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and 
North Carolina were admitted into the Southern Union 
in the order, I believe, in which I have named them. 
Thus was launched the New Republic, with only eleven 
stars on its banner; but it took as its chart the same 
old American Constitution, or one so nearly like it that 
it contained the same limitations upon Federal power, 
the same guarantees of the rights of the States, the 
same muniments of public and personal liberty. 

The historian of the future, who attempts to chronicle 
the events of this period and analyze the thoughts and 
purposes of the people, will find far greater unanimity 
at the South than at the North. This division at the 
North did not last long ; but it existed in a marked de- 
gree for some time after the secession movement began 


and after twenty or more United States forts, arsenals, 
and barracks had been seized by State authorities, and 
even after the steamer Star of the West had been fired 
upon by State troops and driven back from the entrance 
of Charleston Harbor. 

At the South, the action of each State in with- 
drawing from the Union was the end, practically, of all 
division within the borders of such State; and the 
roar of the opening battle at Fort Sumter in South 
Carolina was the signal for practical unanimity at the 

Prior to actual secession there was even at the South 
more or less division of sentiment— not as to principle, 
but as to policy. Scarcely a man could be found in all 
the Southern States who doubted the constitutional right 
of a State to withdraw from the Union ; but many of 
its foremost men thought that such movement was ill- 
advised or should be delayed. Among these were Robert 
E. Lee, who became the commander-in-chief of all the 
Confederate armies ; Alexander Hamilton Stephens, who 
became the Confederate Vice-President; Benjamin H. 
Hill, who was a Confederate senator and one of the Con- 
federate administration's most ardent and perhaps its 
most eloquent supporter ; and even Jefferson Davis him- 
self is said to have shed tears when, at his seat in the 
United States Senate, he received the telegram announ- 
cing that Mississippi had actually passed the ordinance 
of secession. The speech of Mr. Davis on taking leave 
of the Senate shows his loyal devotion to the Republic's 
flag, for which he had shed his blood in Mexico. In pro- 
foundly sincere and pathetic words he thus alludes to 
his unfeigned sorrow at the thought of parting with the 
Stars and Stripes. He said : " I shall be pardoned if I 
here express the deep sorrow which always overwhelms 
me when I think of taking a last leave of that object of 
early affection and proud association, feeling that hence- 


forth it is not to be the banner which by day and by 
night I am ready to follow, to hail with the rising and 
bless with the setting sun." 

He agreed, however, with an overwhelming majority 
of the Southern people, in the opinion that both honor 
and security, as well as permanent peace, demanded sep- 
aration. Referring to the denial of the right of Southern- 
ers to carry their property in slaves into the common 
Territories, he said : "Your votes refuse to recognize our 
domestic institutions, which preexisted the formation 
of the Union — our property, which was guarded by the 
Constitution. You refuse us that equality without which 
we should be degraded if we remained in the Union. . . . 
Is there a senator on the other side who, to-day, will 
agree that we shall have equal enjoyment of the Terri- 
tories of the United States ? Is there one who will deny 
that we have equally paid in their purchases and equally 
bled in their acquisition in war ? . . . Whose is the fault, 
then, if the Union be dissolved 1 ... If you desire, at this 
last moment, to avert civil war, so be it ; it is better so. 
If you will but allow us to separate from you peaceably, 
since we cannot live peaceably together, to leave with 
the rights we had before we were united, since we cannot 
enjoy them in the Union, then there are many relations, 
drawn from the associations of our (common) struggles 
from the Revolutionary period to the present day, which 
may be beneficial to you as well as to us." 

Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, the newly elected 
President, was deeply imbued with the conviction that 
the future welfare of the Republic demanded that slavery 
should be prohibited forever in all the Territories. In- 
deed, upon such platform he had been nominated and 
elected. He, therefore, urged his friends not to yield on 
this point. His language was : " On the territorial ques- 
tion — that is, the question of extending slavery under 
national auspices— I am inflexible. I am for no compro- 


mise which assists or permits the extension of the insti- 
tution on soil owned by the Nation." * 

Thus these two great leaders of antagonistic sectional 
thought were pitted against each other before they had 
actually taken in hand the reins of hostile governments. 
The South in her marvellous fecundity had given birth 
to both these illustrious Americans. Both were of 
Southern lineage and born under Southern skies. In- 
deed, they were born within a few months and miles of 
each other, and nurtured by Kentucky as their common 
mother. But they were destined in God's mysterious 
providence to find homes in different sections, to grow 
up under different institutions, to imbibe in youth and 
early manhood opposing theories of constitutional con- 
struction, to become the most conspicuous representa- 
tives of conflicting civilizations, and the respective 
Presidents of contending republics. 

After long, arduous, and distinguished services to 
their country and to liberty, both of these great sons of 
the South were doomed to end their brilliant careers in 
a manner shocking to the sentiment of enlightened 
Christendom. The one was to die disfranchised by the 
Government he had long and faithfully served and for 
the triumph of whose flag he had repeatedly pledged his 
life. The other was to meet his death by an assassin's 
bullet, at a period when his life, more than that of any 
other man, seemed essential to the speedy pacification 
of his country. 

As stated, there was less division of sentiment in 
the South at this period than at the North. It is a 
great mistake to suppose, as was believed by Northern 
people, that Southern politicians were " dragooning the 
masses," or beguiling them into secession. The literal 
truth is that the people were leading the leaders. The 
rush of volunteers was so great when we reached Mont- 

* Letter to Seward, February 1. 


gomery that my company, the Raccoon Roughs, felt 
that they were the favorites of fortune when they found 
the company enrolled among the "accepted." Hon. L. 
P. Walker, of Alabama, the first Secretary of War, was 
literally overwhelmed by the vast numbers wishing to 
enlist. The applicants in companies and regiments 
fatigued and bewildered him. The pressure was so great 
during his office hours that comparatively few of those 
who sought places in the fighting line could reach him. 
With a military ardor and patriotic enthusiasm rarely 
equalled in any age, the volunteers actually waylaid the 
War Secretary on the streets to urge him to accept at 
once their services. He stated that he found it neces- 
sary, when leaving his office for his hotel, to go by some 
unfrequented way, to avoid the persistent appeals of 
those who had commands ready to take the field. Be- 
fore the Confederate Government left Montgomery for 
Richmond, about 360,000 men and boys, representing the 
best of Southern manhood, had offered their services, 
and were ready to pledge their fortunes and their lives to 
the cause of Southern independence. What was the 
meaning of this unparalleled spontaneity that pervaded 
all classes of the Southern people 1 The only answer is 
that it was the impulse of self-defence. One case will 
illustrate this unsolicited outburst of martial enthusiasm ; 
this excess of patriotism above the supposed exigencies 
of the hour ; this vast surplus of volunteers, beyond the 
power of the new Government to arm. Mr. W. C. Hey- 
ward, of South Carolina, was a gentleman of fortune and 
a West Pointer, graduating in the same class with Presi- 
dent Davis. As soon as the Confederate Government 
was organized, Mr. Heyward went to Montgomery in 
person to tender his services with an entire regiment. 
He was unable for some time to obtain even an interview 
on the subject, and utterly failed to secure an acceptance 
of himself or his regiment. Returning to his home dis- 


appointed, this wealthy, thoroughly educated, and trained 
military man joined the Home Guards, and died doing 
duty as a private in the ranks. 

I know, of nothing in all history that more brilliantly 
illustrates the lofty spirit, the high and holy impulse that 
sways a people aroused by the sentiment of self-defence, 
than this spontaneous uprising of Southern youth and 
manhood; than this readiness to stand for inherited 
convictions and constitutional rights, as they under- 
stood them ; than the marvellous unanimity with which 
they rushed to the front with old flint and steel mus- 
kets, long-barrelled squirrel rifles, and double-barrelled 
shot-guns, in defence of their soil, their States, their 
homes, and, as they verily believed, in defence of im- 
perilled liberty. 

There is no book in existence, I believe, in which the 
ordinary reader can find an analysis of the issues between 
the two sections, which fairly represents both the North 
and the South. Although it would require volumes to 
contain the great arguments, I shall attempt here to give 
a brief summary of the causes of our sectional contro- 
versy, and it will be my purpose to state the cases of the 
two sections so impartially that just-minded people on 
both sides will admit the statement to be judicially fair. 

The causes of the war will be found at the foundation 
of our political fabric, in our complex organism, in the 
fundamental law, in the Constitution itself, in the con- 
flicting constructions which it invited, and in the institu- 
tion of slavery which it recognized and was intended to 
protect. If asked what was the real issue involved in 
our unparalleled conflict, the average American citizen 
will reply, "The negro"; and it is fair to say that had 
there been no slavery there would have been no war. 
But there would have been no slavery if the South's 
protests could have availed when it was first introduced ; 
and now that it is gone, although its sudden and violent 


abolition entailed upon the South, directly and incident- 
ally a series of woes which no pen can describe, yet it is 
true that in no section would its reestablishment be 
more strongly and universally resisted. The South 
steadfastly maintains that responsibility for the presence 
of this political Pandora's box in this Western world 
cannot be laid at her door. When the Constitution was 
adopted and the Union formed, slavery existed in prac- 
tically all the States ; and it is claimed by the Southern 
people that its disappearance from the Northern and its 
development in the Southern States is due to climatic 
conditions and industrial exigencies rather than to the 
existence or absence of great moral ideas. 

Slavery was undoubtedly the immediate fomenting 
cause of the woful American conflict. It was the great 
political factor around which the passions of the sections 
had long been gathered — the tallest pine in the political 
forest around whose top the fiercest lightnings were to 
blaze and whose trunk was destined to be shivered in 
the earthquake shocks of war. But slavery was far from 
being the sole cause of the prolonged conflict. Neither 
its destruction on the one hand, nor its defence on the 
other, was the energizing force that held the contending 
armies to four years of bloody work. I apprehend that 
if all living Union soldiers were summoned to the wit- 
ness-stand, every one of them would testify that it was 
the preservation of the American Union and not the de- 
struction of Southern slavery that induced him to vol- 
unteer at the call of his country. As for the South, it is 
enough to say that perhaps eighty per cent, of her armies 
were neither slave-holders, nor had the remotest interest 
in the institution. No other proof, however, is needed 
than the undeniable fact that at any period of the war 
from its beginning to near its close the South could have 
saved slavery by simply laying down its arms and re- 
turning to the Union. 


We must, therefore, look beyond the institution of 
slavery for the fundamental issues which dominated and 
inspired all classes- of the contending sections. It is not 
difficult to find them. The " Old Man Eloquent," William 
E. Gladstone, who was perhaps England's foremost states- 
man of the century, believed that the Government formed 
by our fathers was the noblest political fabric ever de- 
vised by the brain of man. This undoubtedly is true ; 
and yet before these inspired builders were dead, contro- 
versy arose as to the nature and powers of their free 
constitutional government. Indeed, in the very conven- 
tion that framed the Constitution the clashing theories 
and bristling arguments of 1787 presaged the glistening 
bayonets of 1861. In the cabinet of the first President, 
the contests between Hamilton and Jefferson, represen- 
tatives of conflicting constitutional constructions, were 
so persistent and fierce as to disturb the harmony of ex- 
ecutive councils and tax the patience of Washington. 
The disciples of each of these political prophets numbered 
in their respective ranks the greatest statesmen and 
purest patriots. The followers of each continuously 
battled for these conflicting theories with a power and 
earnestness worthy of the founders of the Republic. 
Generation after generation, in Congress, on the hust- 
ings, and through the press, these irreconcilable doc- 
trines were urged by constitutional expounders, until 
their arguments became ingrained into the very fibre of 
the brain and conscience of the sections. The long war 
of words between the leaders waxed at last into a war of 
guns between their followers. 

During the entire life of the Republic the respective 
rights and powers of the States and general government 
had furnished a question for endless controversy. In 
process of time this controversy assumed a somewhat 
sectional phase. The dominating thought of the North 
and of the South may be summarized in a few sentences. 


The South maintained with the depth of religious con- 
viction that the Union formed under the Constitution 
was a Union of consent and not of force ; that the orig- 
inal States were not the creatures but the creators of the 
Union; that these States had gained their indepen- 
dence, their freedom, and their sovereignty from the 
mother country, and had not surrendered these on 
entering the Union; that by the express terms of the 
Constitution all rights and powers not delegated were 
reserved to the States; and the South challenged the 
North to find one trace of authority in that Constitution 
for invading and coercing a sovereign State. 

The North, on the other hand, maintained with the 
utmost confidence in the correctness of her position that 
the Union formed under the Constitution was intended 
to be perpetual ; that sovereignty was a unit and could 
not be divided; that whether or not there was any 
express power granted in the Constitution for invading a 
State, the right of self-preservation was inherent in all 
governments; that the life of the Union was essential 
to the life of liberty ; or, in the words of Webster, " lib- 
erty and union are one and inseparable." 

To the charge of the North that secession was rebel- 
lion and treason, the South replied that the epithets of 
rebel and traitor did not deter her from the assertion of 
her independence, since these same epithets had been 
familiar to the ears of Washington and Hancock and 
Adams and Light Horse Harry Lee. In vindication of 
her right to secede, she appealed to the essential doc- 
trine, " the right to govern rests on the consent of the 
governed," and to the right of independent action as 
among those reserved by the States. The South ap- 
pealed to the acts and opinions of the Fathers and to 
the report of the Hartford Convention of New England 
States asserting the power of each State to decide as to 
the remedy for infraction of its rights ; to the petitions 


presented and positions assumed by ex-President John 
Quincy Adams ; to the contemporaneous declaration of 
the 8th of January assemblage in Ohio indicating that 
200,000 Democrats in that State alone were ready to 
stand guard on the banks of the border river and resist 
invasion of Southern territory; and to the repeated 
declarations of Horace Greeley and the admission of 
President Lincoln himself that there was difficulty on 
the question of force, since ours ought to be a fraternal 

In answer to all these points, the North also cited the 
acts and opinions of the same Fathers, and urged that 
the purpose of those Fathers was to make a more per- 
fect Union and a stronger government. The North off- 
set the opinions of Greeley and others by the emphatic 
declaration of Stephen A. Douglas, the foremost of West- 
ern Democrats, and by the official opinion as to the 
power of the Government to collect revenues and enforce 
laws, given to President Buchanan by Jere Black, the 
able Democratic Attorney-General. 

Thus the opposing arguments drawn from current 
opinions and from the actions and opinions of the 
Fathers were piled mountain high on both sides. Thus 
the mighty athletes of debate wrestled in the political 
arena, each profoundly convinced of the righteousness 
of his position ; hurling at each other their ponderous 
arguments, which reverberated like angry thunderbolts 
through legislative halls, until the whole political atmos- 
phere resounded with the tumult. Long before a single 
gun was fired public sentiment North and South had 
been lashed into a foaming sea of passion; and every 
timber in the framework of the Government was bend- 
ing and ready to break from " the heaving ground-swell 
of the tremendous agitation." Gradually and naturally 
in this furnace of sectional debate, sectional ballots were 
crystallized into sectional bullets ; and both sides came 


at last to the position formerly held by the great Troup 
of Georgia : " The argument is exhausted ; we stand to 
our guns." 

I submit that this brief and incomplete summary is 
sufficient to satisfy those who live after us that these 
great leaders of conflicting thought, and their followers 
who continued the debate in battle and blood, while in 
some sense partisans, were in a far juster sense patriots. 

The opinions of Lee and Grant, from each of whom I 
briefly quote, will illustrate in a measure the convictions 
of their armies. Every Confederate appreciates the 
magnanimity exhibited by General Grant at Appomat- 
tox ; and it has been my pleasure for nearly forty years 
to speak in public and private of his great qualities. In 
his personal memoirs, General Grant has left on record 
his estimate of the Southern cause. This estimate repre- 
sents a strong phase of Northern sentiment, but it is a 
sentiment which it is extremely difficult for a Southern 
man to comprehend. In speaking of his feelings as "sad 
and depressed," as he rode to meet General Lee and 
receive the surrender of the Southern armies at Appo- 
mattox, General Grant says : " I felt like anything rather 
than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought 
so long and valiantly, and who had suffered so much for 
a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst 
for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was 
the least excuse." He adds : " I do not question, however, 
the sincerity of the great mass of those who were 
opposed to us." 

The words above quoted, showing General Grant's 
opinion of the Southern cause, are italicized by me and 
not by him. My object in emphasizing them is to invite 
special attention to their marked contrast with the 
opinions of General Robert E. Lee as to that same 
Southern cause. This peerless Confederate soldier and 
representative American, than whom no age or country 


ever produced a loftier spirit or more clear-sighted, 
conscientious Christian gentleman, in referring, two days 
before the surrender, to the apparent hopelessness of our 
cause, used these immortal words: " We had, I ivas 
satisfied, sacred principles to maintain and rights to defend 
for which we were in duty bound to do our best, even if we 
perished in the endeavor." 

There were those, a few years ago, who were especially 
devoted to the somewhat stereotyped phrase that in our 
Civil War one side (meaning the North) "was wholly 
and eternally right," while the other side (meaning the 
South) " was wholly and eternally wrong." I might cite 
those on the Southern side of the great controversy, 
equally sincere and fully as able, who would have been 
glad to persuade posterity that the North was " wholly 
and eternally wrong " ; that her people waged war upon 
sister States who sought peacefully to set up a homo- 
geneous government, and meditated no wrong or warfare 
upon the remaining sister States. These Southern leaders 
steadfastly maintained that the Southern people, in the 
exercise of the freedom and sovereign rights purchased 
by Revolutionary blood, were asserting a second inde- 
pendence according to the teachings and example of their 

But what good is to come to the country from partisan 
utterances on either side ? My own well-considered and 
long-entertained opinion, my settled and profound con- 
viction, the correctness of which the future will vindi- 
cate, is this : that the one thing which is " wholly and 
eternally wrong " is the effort of so-called statesmen to 
inject one-sided and jaundiced sentiments into the youth 
of the country in either section. Such sentiments are 
neither consistent with the truth of history, nor con- 
ducive to the future welfare and unity of the Republic. 
The assumption on either side of all the righteousness 
and all the truth would produce a belittling arrogance, 


and an offensive intolerance of the opposing section ; or, 
if either section could be persuaded that it was "wholly 
and eternally wrong," it would inevitably destroy the 
self-respect and manhood of its people. A far broader, 
more truthful, and statesmanlike view was presented by 
the Hon. A. E. Stevenson, of Illinois, then Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States, in his opening remarks as 
presiding officer at the dedication of the National Park 
at Chickamauga. In perfect accord with the sentiment 
of the occasion and the spirit which led to the establish- 
ment of this park as a bond of national brotherhood, 
Mr. Stevenson said : " Here, in the dread tribunal of last 
resort, valor contended against valor. Here brave men 
struggled and died for the right as God gave them to see 
the right." 

Mr. Stevenson was right — " wholly and eternally 
right." Truth, justice, and patriotism unite in proclaim- 
ing that both sides fought and suffered for liberty as 
bequeathed by the Fathers— the one for liberty in the 
union of the States, the other for liberty in the inde- 
pendence of the States. 

While the object of these papers is to record my per- 
sonal reminiscences and to perpetuate incidents illus- 
trative of the character of the American soldier, whether 
he fought on the one side or the other, I am also moved 
to write by what I conceive to be a still higher aim ; and 
that is to point out, if I can, the common ground on 
which all may stand ; where justification of one section 
does not require or imply condemnation of the other — 
the broad, high, sunlit middle ground where fact meets 
fact, argument confronts argument, and truth is balanced 
against truth. 



The Raccoon Roughs made a part of the Sixth Alabama— The journey 
to Virginia — Families divided in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri 
— A father captured by a son in battle — The military spirit in Vir- 
ginia—Andrew Johnson and Parson Brownlow Union leaders in 
Tennessee — Johnson's narrowness afterward exhibited as President. 

THE Raccoon Boughs made an imposing twelfth 
part of the Sixth Alabama, which was one of the 
largest regiments in the Confederate army. Governor 
Moore, in order to comply with his promise to incorpo- 
rate my company into one of the first regiments to be 
organized, consented that the Sixth should contain twelve 
instead of the regulation number of ten companies. A 
movement had been started in Atlanta to uniform my 
mountaineers: but when the message was received 
from Governor Moore, inviting us to come to Mont- 
gomery, all thought of uniformity in dress was lost in 
the enthusiasm evoked by the knowledge that our ser- 
vices were accepted ; and even after the hastily prepared 
uniforms were issued by the new Government my com- 
pany clung tenaciously to " coonskin " head-dress, which 
made a striking contrast to the gray caps worn by the 
other companies. 

No regulation uniform had at this time been adopted 
for field officers, and in deference to the wishes and the 
somewhat quaint taste of Colonel Seibles, the regimental 
commander, the mounted officers of the Sixth wore double- 



breasted frock-coats made of green broadcloth, with 
the brass buttons of the United States army. These 
green coats — more suited to Irishmen than to Americans 
— were not discarded during the entire term of our first 
enlistment for twelve months, nor until we were enrolled 
as a part of the army that was to serve until Southern 
independence was won or lost. I do not know what 
became of my bottle-green coat, with the bullet-holes 
through it, which would now be an object of interest to 
my children. It is remarkable that during the war no 
care was taken of any of these battle-marked articles. 
All minds and hearts were absorbed in the one thought 
of defence. It was a long time before even the flags 
borne in battle became objects of special veneration, or 
gathered about them the sentiment which grew into a 
passion as the war neared its close. After one of the 
early battles one of my color-bearers had secured and 
fastened to the staff a beautiful new flag. When I asked 
him what he had done with the old one, he replied : 

" I threw it away, sir. It was so badly shot that it 
was not worth keeping." 

Our departure from Montgomery for Corinth, Missis- 
sippi, where we were to go into camp of instruction for 
an indefinite period, was amid the roar of cannon, the 
shouts of the multitude, the waving of flags and hand- 
kerchiefs, and the prayers and tears of mothers, wives, 
and sisters. The encampment at Corinth was brief and 
uneventful ; but our trip thence to Virginia was intensely 
interesting, because of the danger and threat of conflict 
between my troops and the citizens in certain localities. 
The line of our travel was through East Tennessee, 
where, even at that early period, there were evidences of 
the radical conflict of opinion between neighbors which 
was destined to eventuate in many bloody feuds. At 
the depots crowds of men were gathered, some cheering, 
some jeering, my troops as they passed. From the tops 


of houses on one side of the street floated the Stars and 
Stripes ; from those on the other were ensigns showing 
sympathy with the new-born Confederacy. The respon- 
sibility on my shoulders was not a light one, for it was 
my duty on every account to restrain the ardor of my 
own men and prevent the slightest imprudence of speech 
or action. No other locality approached East Tennessee 
in the extent of suffering from this peculiarly harassing 
sort of strife, unless possibly it was the State of Ken- 
tucky. In both public sentiment was divided. There 
was intense loyalty to the Union on the one hand, and 
to the Confederate cause on the other. 

War's visage is grim enough at best ; and to the people 
of those localities which were constantly subjected to 
raids, first by one side and then by the other, its frown- 
ing face was rarely relieved by one gleam of alleviating 
tenderness. These divided communities were the fated 
grist which the demon of border war seemed determined 
to grind to dust between his upper and nether mill- 

In East Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, neigh- 
bors who had been lifelong friends became extremely 
embittered. Families were divided, brother against 
brother, and father against son. In Kentucky, it will be 
remembered, many of the most prominent families of 
the State, among them the Breckinridges, the Clays, 
and the Crittendens, were represented in both the Con- 
federate and Union armies. John C. Breckinridge, who 
had just left the seat of Vice-President of the United 
States, and who had been the candidate of one wing of 
the Democratic party for President, cast his fortunes 
with the South, and made a brilliant record as a soldier 
and as the last Confederate Secretary of War. Other 
members of this distinguished family filled honorable 
positions in the opposing armies, and the distinguished 
and somewhat eccentric divine, the Rev. Robert J. Breck- 


inridge, was one of the most eloquent and fervid— not to 
say bitter— advocates of the Union cause. His trenchant 
pen and lashing tongue spared neither blood relatives 
nor ministers nor members of the church, not even those 
of the same faith with himself, provided he regarded 
them as untrue to the Union. The intensity of Dr. 
Breckinridge's antagonism showed itself even on his 
death-bed. He and the Rev. Dr. Stuart Robinson, of 
Kentucky, were both eminent ministers of the same 
church, Dr. Robinson being as intense a sympathizer with 
the South as Dr. Breckinridge was with the North. From 
devoted friends they became fierce antagonists and un- 
compromising foes. When Dr. Breckinridge lay on his 
death-bed, his family and some of his church-members 
were gathered around him. They were most anxious 
that he should be reconciled to all men, and especially 
to Dr. Robinson, before he died, and they asked him, 
" Brother Breckinridge, have you forgiven all your 
enemies I " 

" Oh, yes ; certainly, certainly I have." 

" Well, Brother Breckinridge, have you forgiven our 
brother Dr. Stuart Robinson?" 

" Certainly I have. Did n't I just tell you that I had 
forgiven all my enemies?" 

"But, Brother Breckinridge, when you meet Brother 
Stuart Robinson in heaven, do you feel that you can 
greet him as all the redeemed ought to greet one 
another ! " 

" Don't bother me with such questions. Stuart Rob- 
inson will never get there ! " 

During the year 1895 I was honored with an invita- 
tion to address an audience in Maysville, Kentucky. I 
was deeply impressed by the fact conveyed to me 
that a large number of those who sat before me had 
the harmony and happiness of their homes destroyed 
for the four years of war by the inexpressibly horrid 


thought that sons of the same parents were pitted against 
each other in battle. I was personally presented to a 
number of these formerly divided brothers Who had 
bravely fought from the beginning to the end in oppos- 
ing lines, but were now reunited under the old family 
roof and in the common Republic. It was a Kentucky 
father, I believe, both of whose sons had been killed in 
battle, the one in the Confederate, the other in the Union 
army, who erected to the memory of both over their 
common grave the monument on which he had inscribed 
these five monosyllables: "God knows which was right." 
So much has been said and written of the peculiar 
trials and horrors experienced by the divided com- 
munities in Missouri, East Tennessee, and Kentucky 
that it is a privilege to record one of the incidents which 
at rare intervals sent rays of light through those un- 
happy localities. Major Edwards, of the Confederate 
army, who afterward became an editor of distinction 
in Missouri, had, at the beginning of the war, a neighbor 
and friend who was as intense a Unionist as the major 
was an enthusiastic Confederate. Each felt it his duty 
to go into the service, and when the war came they 
parted to take their places in opposing battle lines. 
Later on, Major Edwards captured this former neighbor 
and friend behind the Southern lines, and near their 
Missouri home. In reply to the question as to why he 
had taken such risk of being captured and sent to a 
Southern prison, the Union soldier explained that his 
wife was behind those lines and extremely ill— probably 
dying; that he had taken the risk of slipping at night 
between the Confederate picket posts in order to receive 
her last blessing and embrace. This statement was 
enough for the knightly man in gray. The Union sol- 
dier was at once made a prisoner, but only in the bonds 
of brotherly tenderness. His house was carefully guarded 
by Major Edwards himself until the sad parting with his 


wife was over, and then he was safely conducted through 
the Confederate lines and sent with a Confederate's sym- 
pathy to his post of duty in the Union camps. 

At a recent reunion of the United Confederate Vet- 
erans, I was told of a thrilling incident which still fur- 
ther and more strikingly illustrates the tragedy of war 
in these divided States. At the beginning of the war 
Major M. H. Clift, of Tennessee, was a mere lad, and 
was attending school in another State. His father was 
an East Tennesseean and was devoted to the cause of the 
Union. Young Clift, however, was carried away by the 
storm of Southern enthusiasm and joined the Confed- 
erate army. The father soon yielded to his own sense 
of patriotic duty, and enlisted in one of the Union regi- 
ments formed in the neighborhood. In the fortunes of 
war, the two, father and son, were soon called to con- 
front each other under hostile banners and in battle 
array. Neither had the remotest thought that the other 
stood in his front. In a furious charge by the Southern 
lines this young Confederate forced a Union soldier to 
surrender to him. Looking into the captured soldier's 
face, the young man recognized his own father. No pen 
could adequately depict his consternation when he real- 
ized that he had been on the point of killing his father, 
nor the joy which filled his heart that this dire calamity 
had been averted. Steps were at once taken to render 
it certain that no such contingency should again occur. 

But the horrors of family division were not confined 
to these States. There were conspicuous instances else- 
where of the disruption of the most sacred ties. The 
Virginia kindred of that able soldier General George H. 
Thomas, and of ex-President Harrison, were in the Con- 
federate service, while those of Generals Lovell and 
Pemberton, who fought for the Southern cause, and of 
Mrs. General Longstreet, supported the flag of the Union. 

In my own State the wife of a Confederate officer saw 


her husband retreat from Savannah under the Confed- 
erate commander, while her own dearly loved kindred 
marched into the town under General W. T. Sherman. 
This wife was Nellie Kinsey, said to be the first white 
child born in Chicago. She grew to accomplished 
womanhood, and married William W. Gordon of Savan- 
nah, who made a brilliant record as a Confederate officer, 
and during our recent war with Spain was commis- 
sioned brigadier-general by President McKinley. Mrs. 
Gordon was intensely loyal to her husband and to the 
cause he loved, but her kindred — her only kindred — were 
in the Union army and conspicuous for their gallantry 
in almost every arm of the service. As she stood with 
her children watching the Federal troops march in tri- 
umphant array under the windows of her Southern 
home, a splendid brass band at the head of one of the 
divisions began playing that familiar old air, " When this 
Cruel War is Over." As soon as the notes struck the 
ears of her little daughter, this enthusiastic young Con- 
federate exclaimed, " Mamma, just listen to the Yankees 
playing 'When this Cruel War is Over,' and they just 
doing it themselves ! " 

When we reached Virginia the military spirit was in 
full flood-tide. The State had just passed the ordinance 
of secession, and almost every young and middle-aged 
man was volunteering for service. Even the servants 
were becoming interested in the military positions to 
which the aspiring young men of the household might 
be assigned. I recall an incident so strikingly charac- 
teristic that it seems due to a proper appreciation of 
these old-time loyal and faithful slaves that I give it in 
this connection. 

Old Simon was the trusted and devoted butler of a 
leading Virginia family, and was very proud of his 
young master, who had just enlisted as a private in the 
cavalry, and, dressed in his new uniform and mounted 


upon his blooded horse, was drilling every day with his 
company. He was, in old Simon's estimation, the equal, 
if not the superior, of any soldier that was ever booted 
and spurred. The time came for the company to start 
to the front, and one of them rode up and asked old 
Simon : 

" Is Bob here, Simon, or has he gone to camp ? " 

"Is you talking about my young marster, Colonel 

"Yes; of course I am, Simon," replied the trooper. 

" But I should like to know how in the Bob got to 

be a colonel I " 

"Lawd, sir, he 's des born a colonel!" said Simon; 
and his genuine and unaffected pride in this belief 
flashed in his old eyes and rang in his tones. 

No account of East Tennessee's condition and expe- 
riences at this period would be complete without a few 
words in reference to those impetuous East Tennessee 
Union leaders, Andrew Johnson, who afterward became 
President, and the redoubtable Parson Brownlow, whose 
fiery denunciations of the Southern cause filled the 
columns of his paper, "Brownlow's Whig." Lifelong 
political antagonists, the one a Democrat, the other a 
"Whig, and both aggressive and unrelenting, they never- 
theless, when civil war approached, buried the partisan 
tomahawk and wielded the Union battle-axe side by side. 
They became coadjutors and the most powerful civil 
supporters of the Union cause in the State, if not in the 
South. Andrew Johnson, as is well known, was a tailor 
when a young man, and, it is said, was taught to read by 
his faithful wife. He deserved and received immense 
credit for the laborious study and untiring perseverance 
which converted the scissors of his shop into the sceptre 
of Chief Executive of the world's greatest Republic ; but 
he did not broaden in sentiment in proportion to the 
elevation he attained and the gravity of the responsi- 


bilities imposed. He was strong but narrow. He could 
not be a statesman in the highest sense of that term, 
because he was swayed by prejudice more than by lofty 
convictions. That he was impelled by motives intensely 
patriotic in adhering to the Union there can be no 
reasonable doubt ; but his utter failure to rise to a full 
conception of the situation in which he found himself 
after President Lincoln's unfortunate death was pain- 
fully apparent to every thoughtful observer. His 
intolerant bigotry, and his failure to appreciate the ob- 
ligations imposed upon him by General Grant's mag- 
nanimous and solemn compact with the Southern army 
at Appomattox, were manifested by his desire to arrest 
General Lee and other prominent prisoners of war who 
had protecting paroles. His blind prejudice against our 
best people was shown in his selection of classes for 
amnesty; and the low plane on which he planted his 
administration was evidenced by his inconsistencies, his 
vacillations, and his reversal of the wise, generous, and 
statesmanly policy of his great predecessor. But the nar- 
rowness of the man and the amazing absurdity of his prej- 
udice are sufficiently exhibited in a circumstance trivial 
in itself, but which, perhaps on that account, more clearly 
indicates his calibre. A few months after the war was 
over, I was passing through Washington, and called to 
pay my respects to General Grant, who had shown me 
personally, at the close of hostilities, marked considera- 
tion and kindness, of which I shall make mention in 
another chapter. General Grant offered to introduce me 
to President Johnson, whom I had never met. We 
walked across to the Executive Mansion, and General 
Grant gave the usher a card on which was written, 
" General Grant, with General Gordon of Georgia," with 
instructions to the usher to hand it to the President. 
We were at once admitted to his presence, and I was 
introduced by General Grant as " General Gordon," with 


some complimentary reference to my rank and service 
in General Lee's army. The President met this intro- 
duction by these words, pronounced with peculiar 
emphasis, "How are you, Mr. Gordon ?" especially accent- 
uating the word Mister. I was neither angry nor indig- 
nant, but my contempt was sincere for the ineffable 
littleness of the man whose untimely ascendancy to 
power at that critical period I can but regard as the ver- 
iest mockery of fate. 

Contrast this foolish and abortive effort at insult with 
the conduct of President Grant, who succeeded him, or 
of General Grant as soldier, or with that of any other 
prominent soldier or high-minded citizen of the country. 
The conduct of General Hancock at General Grant's 
funeral in New York is perhaps in still greater contrast 
with that of President Johnson. Although the incident 
I am about to relate is chronologically out of place here, 
it is emphatically in place as illustrating the point I am 
making in reference to President Johnson. 

It will be remembered that General Hancock was 
commander of the Department of the East (United 
States army) at the time of General Grant's death, and 
was, by reason of his military rank, the chief marshal of 
that stupendous and most impressive pageant wit- 
nessed in New York at General Grant's obsequies. 
I was included among those ex-Confederate officers who 
had been specially invited to participate in the honors 
to be paid to the dead soldier and former President. 
General Hancock had requested that I should ride with 
him at the head of the mighty procession, and he had 
playfully said to the staff that each of us should take 
his place according to rank. Of course I had no thought 
of claiming any rank, and I took my place in the rear of 
the regular staff. General Hancock sent one after an 
other of his immediate staff to request me to ride up to 
the front, with the message that I must obey orders and 


report to him at once at the head of the column. When 
I reached the head of the column, General Hancock 
directed the staff" to compare dates and ascertain the 
ranking officer who should ride on his right. My rank 
as a Confederate general was higher than that of any 
other member of his staff, and he ordered that I should 
take the place of honor. As I could not gracefully re- 
sist this assignment any longer, I accepted it, saying to 
the Union generals, who also served on General Han- 
cock's staff, that they had overwhelmed me some twenty- 
odd years before, but that I had them down now. Gen- 
eral Fitzhugh Lee was similarly honored. 

In closing this chapter, it is not necessary, I trust, for 
me to say that I would do no injustice to the memory of 
President Johnson, but it seems to me that the future 
manhood of our country can be ennobled by the contem- 
plation of the marked and notable contrasts here pre- 
sented, and by a realization of the truth that no station 
in life, however conspicuous, can conceal from view the 
weakness of its possessor. Certainly it can inflict no 
damage upon the character of our youth to let them un- 
derstand that the gulf is both broad and deep which 
separates the highest type of courage from petty and 
ignoble spite, and that the line which divides true nobil- 
ity of soul from narrowness of spirit was drawn by God's 
hand, and will become clearer to human apprehension 
as we approach nearer to Him in thought and action. 



The first great battle of the war— A series of surprises— Mishaps and 
mistakes of the Confederates — Beauregard's lost order — General 
Ewell's rage — The most eccentric officer in the Confederate army — 
Anecdotes of his career — The wild panic of the Union troops — 
Senseless frights that cannot be explained — Illustrated at Cedar Creek. 

THE battle of Bull Run or Manassas was the first, and 
in many respects the most remarkable, battle of our 
Civil War. It was a series of surprises — the unexpected 
happening at almost every moment of its progress. 
Planned by the Union chieftain with consummate skill, 
executed for the most part with unquestioned ability, 
and fought by the Union troops for a time with mag- 
nificent courage, it ended at last in their disastrous rout 
and the official decapitation of their able commander. 
On the Confederate side it was a chapter of mishaps, 
miscarriages, and of some mistakes. It was also a chap- 
ter of superb fighting by the Southern army, and of 
final complete and overwhelming victory. The breaking 
down of the train bearing General Joseph E. Johnston's 
troops was an accident which almost defeated the con- 
summation of that splendid piece of strategy by which 
he had eluded General Patterson in the Valley, and 
which had enabled him to hurry almost his entire force 
to the support of General Beauregard at Manassas. The 
mistakes are represented by the fact that the feint of 
General McDowell on the Confederate front was believed 



to be the real attack, until the Union general was hurl- 
ing his army on Beauregard's flank. Finally, the most 
serious miscarriage was that the order from Beauregard 
to Ewell directing an assault on the Union left failed to 
reach that officer. This strange miscarriage prevented 
General Ewell from making a movement which it then 
seemed probable and now appears certain would have 
added materially to McDowell's disaster. I had already 
been instructed by him to make a reconnaissance in the 
direction of the anticipated assault, but I had been sud- 
denly recalled just as my skirmishers were opening fire. 
I was recalled because General Ewell had not received 
the promised order. For me it was perhaps a most for- 
tunate recall, for in my isolated position I should prob- 
ably have been surrounded and my little command cut 
to pieces. On my return I found General Ewell in an 
agony of suspense. He was chafing like a caged lion, 
infuriated by the scent of blood. He would mount his 
horse one moment and dismount the next. He would 
walk rapidly to and fro, muttering to himself, "No or- 
ders, no orders." General Ewell, who afterward became 
a corps commander, had in many respects the most 
unique personality I have ever known. He was a com- 
pound of anomalies, the oddest, most eccentric genius 
in the Confederate army. He was my friend, and I was 
sincerely and deeply attached to him. No man had a 
better heart nor a worse manner of showing it. He was 
in truth as tender and sympathetic as a woman, but, 
even under slight provocation, he became externally as 
rough as a polar bear, and the needles with which he 
pricked sensibilities were more numerous and keener 
than porcupines' quills. His written orders were full, 
accurate, and lucid; but his verbal orders or directions, 
especially when under intense excitement, no man could 
comprehend. At such times his eyes would flash with a 
peculiar brilliancy, and his brain far outran his tongue. 


His thoughts would leap across great gaps which his 
words never touched, but which he expected his listener 
to fill up by intuition, and woe to the dull subordinate 
who failed to understand him ! 

When he was first assigned to command at the begin- 
ning of the war, he had recently returned from fighting 
Indians on the Western frontier. He had been deal- 
ing only with the enlisted men of the standing army. 
His experience in that wild border life, away from 
churches, civilization, and the refining influences of 
woman's society, were not particularly conducive to 
the development of the softer and better side of his na- 
ture. He became a very pious man in his later years, 
but at this time he was not choice in the manner of ex- 
pressing himself. He asked me to take a hasty break- 
fast with him just before he expected the order from 
Beauregard to ford Bull Run and rush upon McDowell's 
left. His verbal invitation was in these words : " Come 
and eat a cracker with me; we will breakfast together 
here and dine together in hell." To a young officer like 
myself, who had never been under fire except at long 
range, on scouting excursions, or on the skirmish-line, 
such an invitation was not inspiring or appetizing ; but 
E well's spirits seemed to be in a flutter of exultation. 

An hour later, after I had been recalled from my peril- 
ous movement to "feel of the enemy," I found General 
Ewell, as I have said, almost frenzied with anxiety over 
the non-arrival of the anticipated order to move to the 
attack. He directed me to send to him at once a mounted 
man "with sense enough to go and find out what was the 
matter." I ordered a member of the governor's Horse 
Guard to report immediately to General Ewell. This 
troop represented some of the best blood of Virginia. 
Its privates were refined and accomplished gentlemen, 
many of them University graduates, who, at the first 
tocsin of war, had sprung into their saddles as volun- 


teers. The intelligent young trooper who was selected 
to ride upon this most important mission under the 
verbal direction of. General Ewell himself, mounted his 
high-spirited horse, and, with high-top boots, polished 
spurs, and clanking sabre, galloped away to where the 
general was impatiently waiting at his temporary head- 
quarters on the hill. Before this inexperienced but 
promising young soldier had time to lift his hat in re- 
spectful salutation, the general was slashing away with 
tongue and finger, delivering his directions with such 
rapidity and incompleteness that the young man's 
thoughts were dancing through his brain in inextricable 
confusion. The general, having thus delivered himself, 
quickly asked, "Do you understand, sir?" Of course 
the young man did not understand, and he began 
timidly to ask for a little more explicit information. 
The fiery old soldier cut short the interview with " Go 
away from here and send me a man who has some 
sense ! " 

Later in the war, when I was commanding a division 
in Stonewall Jackson's old corps, then commanded by 
General Ewell, I had a very similar experience with this 
eccentric officer. It was in the midst of one of the bat- 
tles between Lee and Grant in the Wilderness. As 
already explained, General Ewell's spirits, like the eagle's 
wings gathering additional power in the storm, seemed 
to mount higher and higher as the fury of the battle in- 
creased. My division of his corps was advancing under 
a galling fire. General Ewell rode at full speed to the 
point where I was intensely engaged directing the charge, 
and asked me to lend him one of my staff, his own all 
having been despatched with orders to different portions 
of the field. I indicated a staff-officer whom he might 
command, and he began, in his characteristic style under 
excitement, to tell this officer what to do. My staff-offi- 
cer had learned to interpret the general fairly well, but 


to catch his meaning at one point stopped him and said : 
"Let me see if I understand you, sir?" General Ewell 
was so incensed at this insinuation of lack of perspicuity 
that he turned away abruptly, without a word of explana- 
tion, simply throwing up his hand and blowing away the 
young officer with a sort of "whoo-oo-oot." There is no 
way to spell out this indignant and resounding puff ; but 
even in the fierce battle that was raging there was a 
roar of laughter from the other members of my staff as 
the droll and doughty warrior rushed away to another 
part of the field. 

I cannot conclude this imperfect portrayal of the 
peculiarities of this splendid soldier and eccentric genius 
without placing upon record one more incident connected 
with the first battle of Bull Run. While he waited for 
the order from Beauregard (which never came), I sat on 
my horse near him as he was directing the location of a 
battery to cover the ford, and fire upon a Union battery 
and its supports on the opposite hills. As our guns were 
unlimbered, a young lady, who had been caught between 
the lines of the two armies, galloped up to where the 
general and I were sitting on our horses, and began to 
tell the story of what she had seen. She had mounted 
her horse just in front of General McDowell's troops, 
who it was expected would attempt to force a crossing 
at this point. This Virginia girl, who appeared to be 
seventeen or eighteen years of age, was in a flutter of 
martial excitement. She was profoundly impressed 
with the belief that she really had something of impor- 
tance to tell. The information which she was trying to 
convey to General Ewell she was sure would be of vast 
import to the Confederate cause, and she was bound to 
deliver it. General Ewell listened to her for a few min- 
utes, and then called her attention to the Union batteries 
that were rushing into position and getting ready to 
open fire upon the Confederate lines. He said to her, in 


his quick, quaint manner : " Look there, look there, miss ! 
Don't you see those men with blue clothes on, in 
the edge of the woods? Look at those men loading 
those big guns. They are going to fire, and fire quick, 
and fire right here. You '11 get killed. You '11 be a dead 
damsel in less than a minute. Get away from here! 
Get away ! " The young woman looked over at the 
blue coats and the big guns, but paid not the slightest 
attention to either. Nor did she make any reply to his 
urgent injunction, " Get away from here ! " but con- 
tinued the story of what she had seen. General Ewell, 
who was a crusty old bachelor at that time, and knew far 
less about women than he did about wild Indians, was 
astounded at this exhibition of feminine courage. He 
gazed at her in mute wonder for a few minutes, and then 
turned to me suddenly, and, with a sort of jerk in his 
words, said: "Women — I tell you, sir, women would 
make a grand brigade — if it was not for snakes and 
spiders ! " He then added much more thoughtfully : 
"They don't mind bullets— women are not afraid of 
bullets ; but one big black-snake would put a whole army 
to flight." And he had not fired very wide of the mark. 
It requires the direst dangers, especially where those 
dangers threaten some cause or object around which 
their affections are entwined, to call out the marvellous 
courage of women. Under such conditions they will 
brave death itself without a quiver. I have seen one of 
them tested. I saw Mrs. Gordon on the streets of Win- 
chester, under fire, her soul aflame with patriotic ardor, 
appealing to retreating Confederates to halt and form a 
new line to resist the Union advance. She was so trans- 
ported by her patriotic passion that she took no notice 
of the whizzing shot and shell, and seemed wholly uncon- 
scious of her great peril. And yet she will precipitately 
fly from a bat, and a big black bug would fill her with 


Those who are inclined to investigate the mysteries of 
that strange compound which makes up our mental, 
moral, and physical natures will find abundant material 
in the wild panic which seized and shook to pieces the 
Union army at Bull Run, scattering it in disorganized 
fragments through woods and fields and by-ways, and 
filling the roads with broken wagons and knapsacks, 
and small arms — an astounding experience which was 
the prototype of similar scenes to be enacted in both 
armies in the later stages of the war. No better troops 
were ever marshalled than those who filled the Union 
and Confederate ranks. Indeed, taking them all in 
all, I doubt whether they have been equalled. How 
courage of the noblest type, such as these American sol- 
diers possessed, could be converted in an instant into 
apparent — even apparent — cowardice is one of the 
secrets, unsolvable perhaps, of our being. What was 
the special, sufficient, and justifiable ground for such 
uncontrollable apprehensions in men who enlisted to 
meet death, and did meet it, or were ready to meet it, 
bravely and grandly on a hundred fields ? The panic at 
Bull Run seized McDowell's whole army ; and yet a large 
portion of it at the moment the panic occurred was per- 
haps not under fire— certainly in no danger of annihi- 
lation or of serious harm. Yet they fled, all or practi- 
cally all — fled with uncontrollable terror. Of course 
there were times when it was necessary to retreat. 
Occasions came, I presume, to every command that did 
much fighting during those four years, when the most 
sensible thing to do was to go, and without much 
thought as to the order of the going — the faster the 
better. It is not that class of retreats that I am consid- 
ering. These were not panics; nor did they bear any 
special resemblance to panics, except that in both cases 
it was flight— even disorganized flight. There was, how- 
ever, this radical difference between the two: in one 


case the men were ready to halt, reform their lines, and 
fight again; in the other case these same men were as 
heedless of an officer's orders (supposing the officer to 
have retained his senses) as a herd of wild buffaloes. 

The soldiers on both sides who may read this book 
will recall many instances of both kinds of flight. One 
of the good-natured gibes with which the infantry 
poked the ribs of the cavalry was that they had too 
many feet and legs under them to stand and be shot at ; 
but what old soldier of either arm of the service will 
refuse to bear testimony to the fact that the Confederate 
cavalry on many occasions charged batteries and solid 
lines, and, after being repulsed, would retreat, reform, 
and charge again and again — a constant alternation of 
charges and rapid retreats without the slightest indi- 
cation of panic ? I saw Sheridan's cavalry in the Valley 
of Virginia form in my front, charge across the open 
fields and almost over my lines, which were posted be- 
hind stone fences. They rode at a furious rate, driving 
spurs into their horses' sides as they rushed like a 
mountain torrent against the rock wall. Some of them 
went over it, only to be captured or shot. They dis- 
charged carbines in our faces, and then retreated in 
fairly good order, under a furious fire, with apparently 
no more of panic than if they had been fighting a sham 

But those sudden and sometimes senseless frights 
which deprived brave men of all self-control for the 
time, were so unexpected, so strange and terrible, so 
inconsistent with the conduct of the same men at other 
times and under circumstances equally and perhaps 
even more trying, that they justify a few additional illus- 

The battle of Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Val- 
ley, on October 19, 1864, about which I shall have 
more to say in its chronological order, furnishes cases in 


point by both armies and on the same day. Neither the 
panic which struck with snch resistless terror, Sheridan's 
two corps as they were assaulted at dawn, and which 
sent them, as the sun rose over the adjacent mountains, 
flying in wildest rout from the fields and for miles to the 
rear, with no enemy in pursuit; nor the panic which 
seized and sent General Early's army, as that same sun 
was setting behind the opposite mountains, rushing 
across the bridges, or into the chilly waters, and through 
the dense cedars of the limestone cliffs — neither of these 
was the necessary, logical, or even natural sequence of 
the conditions which preceded them. There is no logic 
in a panic. It is true that in both cases the armies had 
been assailed in front and flank ; and the cry, " We are 
flanked ! " not infrequently produced upon the steadiest 
battalions an effect similar to that caused among pas- 
sengers at sea by the alarm of fire. But the point is 
that while it might not have been possible to prevent 
the opposing forces from achieving a victory after the 
flank movement was under full headway, yet the retreat 
in each case could have been accomplished with far 
lighter losses in killed, wounded, and prisoners. If the 
armies had not allowed the unnecessary panic to deprive 
them of their reason and thus of all control of will power, 
they would have had a better chance for life in a some- 
what orderly retreat, distracting and confusing the aim 
of the advancing lines by returning fire for fire, than by 
permitting the pursuers deliberately to shoot them in 
the back. 

The strangest fact of all is that many of these men in 
both armies had often exhibited before, as they did on 
many succeeding fields and under just as trying condi- 
tions, a heroism rarely equalled and never excelled in 
military annals — a heroism that defied danger and was 
impervious to panic. Sheridan's men, who threw away 
everything that could impede their flight in the morning 


at Cedar Creek, fought with splendid courage before and 
afterward. Indeed, they returned that same afternoon 
and made most honorable amends for the mistakes of 
the morning. Some of these same Confederates had 
been flanked and almost surrounded by McDowell's 
army in the early hours at Bull Run and yet felt no 
symptoms of panic. Some of them had been with me 
at South Mountain in '62, detached for the moment 
from the main army, at times nearly surrounded, 
attacked first in front, then upon the right, and then 
upon the left flank, changing front under fire, retreating 
now slowly, now rapidly, but in every case halting at 
the command and forming a new line to repeat the ma- 
noeuvres, and without a semblance of panic. I verily 
believe they would have died, almost to a man, on the 
rocks of that rugged mountain-side, but for the gracious 
dropping of night's curtain on the scene. They did die, 
nearly or quite half of them, the next day at Antietam 
or Sharpsburg. Still more striking the contrast — large 
numbers of these Confederates who were overwhelmed 
with panic at Cedar Creek fought upon the last dread- 
ful retreat from Petersburg with marvellous intrepidity, 
while flanked and forced to move rapidly from one posi- 
tion to another. And on that last morning at Appo- 
mattox these same Confederates were fighting in almost 
every direction, surrounded on all sides except one, with 
a column plainly in view and advancing to complete the 
circle of fire around them ; and they continued to fight 
bravely and grandly until the flag of truce heralded the 
announcement that the war was over. 



Indomitable Americanism, North and South— Rally of the North after 
Bull Run— Severity of winter quarters in Virginia— McClellan's army 
landed at Yorktown — Retreat of the Confederates— On the Chicka- 
hominy — Terrible slaughter at Seven Pines — A brigade commander. 

THE North had lost, the South had won, in the first 
bloody battle of the war, and all chances for com- 
promise were obliterated, if indeed they had ever existed. 
The Northern army had been defeated and driven back 
beyond the Potomac, but the defeat simply served to 
arouse the patriotic people of that section to more de- 
termined effort. Party passion was buried, party lines 
were almost entirely erased, and party organizations 
were merged into the one compact body of a united 
people, led by the all-pervading purpose to crush out the 
Southern movement and save the Union. "With that 
tenacity of will, that unyielding Anglo-Saxon perseve- 
rance—or, I prefer to say, that indomitable American- 
ism—for which the people of the United States are so 
justly famed, the North rose superior to the disaster, and 
resolved, as did old Andrew Jackson, that "the Union 
should be preserved." 

The South, on the other hand, greatly encouraged by 
the victory, bowed at its altars and thanked Heaven for 
this indication of ultimate triumph. Her whole people, 
with an equally tenacious Americanism, and fully per- 



suaded that the independent States, now united under an- 
other and similar Constitution, had a right to set up their 
own homogeneous government, resolved that, if sacrifices 
and fighting could secure it, the South should become an 
independent republic. "With a deeper consecration than 
ever, if possible, they pledged anew to that cause their 
honor, their wealth, their faith, their prayers, their lofty 
manhood and glorious womanhood, resolving never to 
yield as long as hope or life endured. And they did not 
yield until their whole section, "with its resources all 
exhausted, lay prostrate and powerless, bleeding at every 

The North soon rallied after the defeat at Bull Run. 
Her armies were placed under the immediate command 
of that brilliant young chieftain, Oeorge B. McClellan, 
whose genius as organizer, ability as disciplinarian, and 
magnetism in contact with his men, rapidly advanced 
his heavily reenforced army to a high plane of efficiency. 
The pride felt in him was manifested by the title " Young 
Napoleon," bestowed upon him by his admiring country- 
men. No advance, however, was made by his army 
until the following spring. The Confederate army, 
under General Joseph E. Johnston, was occupied during 
the remaining months of summer and fall, mainly in 
drilling, recruiting its ranks, doing picket duty, and, as 
winter approached, in gathering supplies and preparing, 
as far as possible, for protection against Virginia freezes 
and snows. 

My men were winter-quartered in the dense pine 
thickets on the rough hills that border the Occoquan. 
Christmas came, and was to be made as joyous as our 
surroundings would permit, by a genuine Southern egg- 
nog with our friends. The country was scoured far and 
near for eggs, which were exceedingly scarce. Of sugar 
we still had at that time a reasonable supply, but our 
small store of eggs and the other ingredients could not 


be increased in all the country round about. Mrs. Gor- 
don superintended the preparation of this favorite 
Christmas beverage, and at last the delicious potion was 
ready. All stood anxiously waiting with camp cups in 
hand. The servant started toward the company with 
full and foaming bowl, holding it out before him with 
almost painful care. He had taken but a few steps 
when he struck his toe against the uneven floor of the 
rude quarters and stumbled. The scattered fragments 
of crockery and the aroma of the wasted nectar marked 
the melancholy wreck of our Christmas cheer. 

The winter was a severe one and the men suffered 
greatly — not only for want of sufficient preparation, but 
because those from farther South were unaccustomed 
to so cold a climate. There was much sickness in camp. 
It was amazing to see the large number of country boys 
who had never had the measles. Indeed, it seemed to 
me that they ran through the whole catalogue of com- 
plaints to which boyhood and even babyhood are sub- 
jected. They had everything almost except teething, 
nettle-rash, and whooping-cough. I rather think some of 
them were afflicted with this latter disease. Those who 
are disposed to wonder that Southern troops should 
suffer so much from a Virginia winter will better appre- 
ciate the occasional severity of that climate when told 
of the incident which I now relate. General R. A. Alger, 
of the Union army, ex-Governor of Michigan and ex- 
Secretary of War, states that he was himself on picket 
duty in winter and at night in this same section of 
Virginia. It was his duty as officer in charge to visit 
during the night the different picket posts and see that 
the men were on the alert, so as to avoid surprises. It 
was an intensely cold night, and on one of his rounds, a 
few hours before daylight, he approached a post where 
a solitary picket stood on guard. As he neared the post 
he was greatly surprised to find that the soldier did not 


halt him and force him to give the countersign. He 
could plainly see the soldier standing on his post, lean- 
ing against a tree, and was indignant because he sup- 
posed he had found one of his men asleep on duty, when 
to remain awake and watchful was essential to the 
army's safety. Walking up to his man, he took him by 
the arm to arouse him from sleep and place him under 
immediate arrest. He was horrified to find that the 
sentinel was dead. Frozen, literally frozen, was this 
faithful picket, but still standing at the post of duty 
where his commander had placed him, his form erect 
and rigid— dead on his post ! 

Even at that early period the Southern men were 
scantily clad, though we had not then reached the 
straits to which we came as the war progressed, and of 
which a simple-hearted countrywoman gave an approxi- 
mate conception when she naively explained that her 
son's only pair of socks did not wear out, because " when 
the feet of the socks got full of holes I just knitted new 
feet to the tops, and when the tops wore out I just 
knitted new tops to the feet." 

This remarkable deficiency in heavy clothing among 
the Southern troops even at the beginning of the war is 
easily explained. We were an agricultural people. Farm- 
ing or planting was fairly remunerative and brought 
comfort, with not only financial but personal indepen- 
dence, which induced a large majority of our population 
to cling to rural life and its delightful occupations. 
Little attention, comparatively, was paid to mining or 
manufacturing. The railroads were constructed through 
cotton belts rather than through coal- and iron-fields. 
There were some factories for the manufacture of cloth, 
but these were mainly engaged upon cotton fabrics, and 
those which produced woollens or heavy goods were few 
and of limited capacity. It will be seen that in this situ- 
ation, with small milling facilities, with great armies on 


our hands, and our ports closed against foreign impor- 
tations, we were reduced to the dangerous extremity of 
blockade-running, and to the still more hazardous con- 
tingency of capturing now and then overcoats and trou- 
sers from the Union forces. 

Perhaps the utter lack of preparation for the war on 
the part of the South is proof that its wisest statesmen 
anticipated no such stupendous struggle as ensued. 
After the inauguration of the government at Montgom- 
ery, the Confederacy could have purchased the entire 
cotton crop — practically every bale left in the Southern 
States at that season — with Confederate bonds or with 
Confederate currency. The people, as a rule, had abso- 
lute faith in the success and stability of the government. 
Thoughtful business men took the bonds as an invest- 
ment. Careful and conscientious guardians sold the 
property of minors and invested the proceeds in Con- 
federate bonds. If, therefore, Southern statesmen had 
believed that the Northern people would with practical 
unanimity back the United States Government in a vig- 
orous and determined war to prevent the withdrawal of 
the Southern States, those able men who led the South 
would undoubtedly have sought to place the Confeder- 
acy in control of the cotton then on hand, and of suc- 
ceeding crops. It will be readily seen what an enormous 
financial strength would have been thus acquired, and 
what a basis for negotiations abroad would have been 
furnished. When the price of cotton rose to twenty-five, 
forty, fifty cents per pound (it was worth, I think, over 
ninety cents per pound at one time), a navy for the Con- 
federate Government could have been purchased strong 
enough to have broken, by concentrated effort, the 
blockade of almost any port on the Southern coast, thus 
admitting arms, ammunition, clothing, tents, and medi- 
cine, which would have largely increased the efficiency 
of the Confederate armies. 


At last after the winter months, each one of which 
seemed to us almost a year, the snows on the Occo- 
quan melted. The buds began to swell, the dogwood 
to blossom, and the wild onions, which the men gathered 
by the bushel and ate, began to shed their pungent odor 
on the soft warm air. With the spring came also the 
marching and the fighting. General McClellan landed 
his splendid army at Yorktown, and threatened Rich- 
mond from the Virginia peninsula. The rush then came 
to relieve from capture the small force of General 
Magruder and to confront General McClellan's army at 
his new base of operations. Striking camp and moving 
to the nearest depot, we were soon on the way to York- 
town. The long trains packed with their living Confed- 
erate freight were hurried along with the utmost possible 
speed. As the crowded train upon which I sat rushed 
under full head of steam down grade on this single track, 
it was met by another train of empty cars flying with 
great speed in the opposite direction. The crash of the 
fearful collision and its harrowing results are inde- 
scribable. Nearly every car on the densely packed train 
was telescoped and torn in pieces ; and men, knapsacks, 
arms, and shivered seats were hurled to the front and 
piled in horrid mass against the crushed timbers and 
ironwork. Many were killed, many maimed for life, 
and the marvel is that any escaped unhurt. Mrs. Gor- 
don, who was with me on this ill-fated train, was saved, 
by a merciful Providence, without the slightest in- 
jury. Her hands were busied with the wounded, while 
I superintended the cutting away of debris to rescue the 
maimed and remove the dead. 

From Yorktown it was the Confederates' time to re- 
treat, and it was a retreat to the very gates of Rich- 
mond. General Johnston, however, like a lion pursued 
to his den, turned upon McClellan, when there, with a 
tremendous bound. 


On that memorable retreat it was my fortune for a 
time to bring up the rear. The roads were in horrible 
condition. In the mud and slush and deep ruts cut by 
the wagon-trains and artillery of the retreating army, a 
number of heavy guns became bogged and the horses 
were unable to drag them. My men, weary with the 
march and belonging to a different arm of the service, 
of course felt that it was a trying position to be com- 
pelled to halt and attempt to move this artillery, with 
the Union advance pressing so closely upon them. But 
they were tugging with good grace when I rode up from 
the extreme rear. An extraordinary effort, however, was 
required to save the guns. As I dismounted from my 
horse and waded into the deep mud and called on them 
to save the artillery, they raised a shout and crowded 
around the wheels. Not a gun or caisson was lost, and 
there was never again among those brave men a mo- 
ment's hesitation about leaping into the mud and water 
whenever it became necessary on any account. 

At another time on this march I found one of my 
youngest soldiers — he was a mere lad — lying on the 
roadside, weeping bitterly. I asked him what was the 
matter. He explained that his feet were so sore that he 
could not walk any farther and that he knew he would 
be captured. His feet were in a dreadful condition. I 
said to him, " You shall not be captured," and ordered 
him to mount my horse and ride forward until he could 
get into an ambulance or wagon, and to tell the quarter- 
master to send my horse back to me as soon as possible. 
He wiped his eyes, got into my saddle, and rode a few 
rods to where the company of which he was a member 
had halted to rest. He stopped his horse in front of his 
comrades, who were sitting for the moment on the road- 
side, and straightening himself up, he lifted his old 
slouch-hat with all the dignity of a commander-in-chief 
and called out: "Attention, men! I 'm about to bid 


you farewell, and I want to tell you before I go that I 
am very sorry for you. I was poor once myself ! " 
Having thus delivered himself, he galloped away, bow- 
ing and waving his hat to his comrades in acknowledg- 
ment of the cheers with which they greeted him. 

After a few hours' pause and a brief but sharp engage- 
ment at Williamsburg, General Johnston continued his 
retreat to his new lines near the city of Richmond. On 
the banks of the Chickahominy, if the Chickahominy 
can be said to have banks, both armies prepared for the 
desperate struggles which were soon to follow and decide 
the fate of the Confederate capital. " On the Chicka- 
hominy ! " Whatever emotions these words may awaken 
in others, they bring to me some of the saddest memories 
of those four years, in which were crowded the experi- 
ences of an ordinary lifetime. Standing on picket posts in 
the dreary darkness and sickening dampness of its mias- 
matic swamps, hurrying to the front through the slush 
and bogs that bordered it, fighting hip-deep in its turbid 
waters, I can see now the faces of those brave men who 
never faltered at a command, whatever fate obedience to 
it might involve. 

During the weary days and nights preceding these 
battles, the Southern troops, as they returned from out- 
post duty, kept the camp in roars of laughter with sol- 
dier "yarns" about their experiences at night at the 
front : how one man, relieved temporarily from guard 
duty by his comrade of the next relief, lay down on a 
log to catch a brief nap, and dreaming that he was at 
home in his little bed, turned himself over and fell off 
the log into the water at its side; how another, whose 
imagination had been impressed by his surroundings, 
made the outpost hideous with his frog-like croaking or 
snoring; and so on in almost endless variety. I recall 
one private who had a genius for drawing, and whose 
imaginative, clever caricatures afforded much amuse- 


merit in camp. He would represent this or that com- 
rade with a frog-like face and the body and legs of a 
frog, standing in the deep water, with knapsack high up 
on his back, his gun in one hand and a "johnny-cake" 
in the other — the title below it being Bill or Bob or Jake 
"on picket in the Chickahominy." A characteristic story 
is told of a mess that was formed, with the most re- 
markable regulations or by-laws. The men were to draw 
straws to ascertain who should be the cook. The by- 
laws further provided that the party thus designated 
should continue to cook for the mess until some one 
complained of his cooking, whereupon the man who 
made the first complaint should at once be initiated into 
the office and the former incumbent relieved. Of 
course, with this chance of escape before him, a cook had 
no great incentive to perfect himself in the culinary art. 
The first cook was not long in forcing a complaint. 
Calling his mess to supper spread on an oil-cloth in the 
little tent, he confidently awaited the result. One after 
another tasted and quickly withdrew from the repast. 
One member, who was very hungry and outraged at the 
character of the food, asked : "Joe, what do you call this 
stuff, anyhow?" 

"That? Why, that's pie," said Joe. "Well," replied the 
hungry member, "if you call that pie, all I 've got to say 
is, it 's the est pie that I ever tasted." 

Then, suddenly remembering that the penalty for com- 
plaining was to take Joe's place, he quickly added, "But 
it 's all right, Joe ; I like it, but I am not hungry to- 
night." This after-thought came too late, however. The 
by-laws were inflexible, and Joe's supper had won his 
freedom. The poor complainant whose indignant stom- 
ach had slaughtered his prudence was quietly but 
promptly inducted into the position of chef for the mess. 

Whatever rank may be assigned in history to the 
battle of Seven Pines, or Fair Oaks, as the Union men 


call it, it was to my regiment one of the bloodiest of my 
war experience. Hurled, in the early morning, against 
the breastworks which protected that portion of McClel- 
lan's lines, my troops swept over and captured them, but 
at heavy cost. As I spurred my horse over the works 
with my men, my adjutant, who rode at my side, fell 
heavily with his horse down the embankment, and both 
were killed. Reforming my men under a galling fire, and 
ordering them forward in another charge upon the sup- 
porting lines, which fought with the most stubborn re- 
sistance, disputing every foot of ground, I soon found 
that Lieutenant-Colonel Willingham, as gallant a soldier 
as ever rode through fire and who was my helper on the 
right, had also been killed and his horse with him. 
Major Nesmith, whose towering form I could still see on 
the left, was riding abreast of the men and shouting in 
trumpet tones : " Forward, men, forward ! " but a ball 
soon silenced his voice forever. Lieutenant-colonel, 
major, adjutant, with their horses, were all dead, and I 
was left alone on horseback, with my men dropping 
rapidly around me. My soldiers declared that they 
distinctly heard the command from the Union lines, 
" Shoot that man on horseback." In both armies it was 
thought that the surest way to demoralize troops was to 
shoot down the officers. Nearly or quite half the line 
officers of the twelve companies had by this time fallen, 
dead or wounded. General Rodes, the superb brigade- 
commander, had been disabled. Still I had marvellously 
escaped, with only my clothing pierced. As I rode up 
and down my line, encouraging the men forward, I 
passed my young brother, only nineteen years old, but 
captain of one of the companies. He was lying with a 
number of dead companions near him. He had been 
shot through the lungs and was bleeding profusely. I 
did not stop ; I could not stop, nor would he permit me to 
stop. There was no time for that— no time for anything 


except to move on and fire on. At this time my own 
horse, the only one left, was killed. He could, however, 
have been of little service to me any longer, for in the 
edge of this flooded swamp heavy timber had been 
felled, making an abatis quite impassable on horseback, 
and I should have been compelled to dismount. McClel- 
lan's men were slowly being pressed back into and through 
the Chickahominy swamp, which was filled with water ; 
but at almost every step they were pouring terrific vol- 
lies into my lines. My regiment had been in some 
way separated from the brigade, and at this juncture 
seemed to reach the climax of extremities. My field 
officers and adjutant were all dead. Every horse ridden 
into the fight, my own among them, was dead. Fully 
one half of my line officers and half my men were dead 
or wounded. A furious fire still poured from the front, 
and reinforcements were nowhere in sight. The brigade- 
commander was disabled, and there was no horse or 
means at hand of communication with his headquarters 
or any other headquarters, except by one of my soldiers 
on foot, and the chances ten to one against his living to 
bear my message. In water from knee- to hip- deep, the 
men were fighting and falling, while a detail propped up 
the wounded against stumps or trees to prevent their 
drowning. Fresh troops in blue were moving to my 
right flank and pouring a raking fire down my line, and 
compelling me to change front with my companies there. 
In ordering Captain Bell, whom I had placed in command 
of that portion of my line, I directed that he should beat 
back that flanking force at any cost. This faithful officer 
took in at a glance the whole situation, and, with a cour- 
age that never was and never will be surpassed, he and his 
Spartan band fought until he and nearly all his men were 
killed ; and the small remnant, less than one fifth of the 
number carried into the battle, were fighting still when 
the order came at last for me to withdraw. Even in the 


withdrawal there was no confusion, no precipitancy, 
Slowly moving back, carrying their wounded comrades 
with them, and firing as they moved, these shattered 
remnants of probably the largest regiment in the army 
took their place in line with the brigade. 

The losses were appalling. All the field officers except 
myself had been killed. Of forty-four officers of the 
line, but thirteen were left for duty. Nearly two thirds 
of the entire command were killed or wounded. My 
young brother, Captain Augustus Gordon, who had been 
shot through the lungs, was carried back with the 
wounded. He recovered, and won rapid promotion by 
his high soldierly qualities, but fell at the head of his 
regiment in the Wilderness with his face to the front, a 
grape-shot having penetrated his breast at almost the 
same spot where he had been formerly struck. 

The disabling of General Eodes left the brigade tem- 
porarily without a commander ; but movement was suc- 
ceeding movement and battle following battle so rapidly 
that some one had to be placed in command at once. 
This position fell to my lot. It was not only unex- 
pected, but unwelcome and extremely embarrassing ; for, 
of all the regimental commanders in the brigade, I was 
the junior in commission and far the youngest in years. 
My hesitation became known to my brother officers. 
With entire unanimity and a generosity rarely witnessed 
in any sphere of life, they did everything in their power 
to lessen my embarrassment and uphold my hands. No 
young man with grave responsibilities suddenly placed 
upon him ever had more constant or more efficient sup- 
port than was given to me by these noble men. 

I close this chapter by quoting a few sentences penned 
after the battle by Major John Sutherland Lewis in ref- 
erence to the terrific strain upon Mrs. Gordon's sensi- 
bilities as she sat in sound of that battle's roar. Major 
Lewis was Mrs. Gordon's uncle, an elderly gentleman of 


rare accomplishments. As he was without a family of 
his own, and was devoted to his niece, he naturally- 
watched over her with the tender solicitude of a father, 
when it was possible for him to be near her during the 
war. He died in very old age some years after the 
close of hostilities, but he left behind him touching trib- 
utes to his cherished niece, with whose remarkable ad- 
ventures he was familiar, and whose fortitude had 
amazed and thrilled him. I quote only a few sentences 
from his pen in this connection : 

The battle in which Mrs. Gordon's husband was then engaged 
was raging near the city with great fury. The cannonade was 
rolling around the horizon like some vast earthquake on huge 
crashing wheels. Whether the threads of wedded sympathy 
were twisted more closely as the tremendous perils gathered 
around him, it was evident that her anxiety became more and 
more intense with each passing moment. She asked me to ac- 
company her to a hill a short distance away. There she lis- 
tened in silence. Pale and quiet, with clasped hands, she sat 
statue-like, with her face toward the field of battle. Her self- 
control was wonderful ; only the quick-drawn sigh from the 
bottom of the heart revealed the depth of emotion that was 
struggling there. The news of her husband's safety afterward 
and the joy of meeting him later produced the inevitable reac- 
tion. The intensity of mental strain to which she had been 
subjected had overtasked her strength, and when the exces- 
sive tension was relaxed she was well-nigh prostrated; but a 
brief repose enabled her to bear up with a sublime fortitude 
through the protracted and trying experiences which followed 
the seven days' battles around Richmond. 



Wonderful instances of prophetic foresight— Colonel Lomax predicts 
his death— The vision of a son dying two days before it happened— 
General Ramseur's furlough— Colonel Augustus Gordon's calm an- 
nouncement of his death— Instances of misplaced fatalism— General 
D. H. Hill's indifference to danger. 

AT the time of this battle I had brought to my imme- 
diate knowledge, for the first time, one of those 
strange presentiments or revelations, whatever they 
may be called, which so often came to soldiers of both 
armies. Colonel Tennant Lomax, of Alabama, was one 
of the leading citizens of that State. He was a man of 
recognized ability and the most exalted character. With 
a classic face and superb form, tall, erect, and command- 
ing, he would have been selected among a thousand men 
as the ideal soldier. His very presence commanded re- 
spect and inspired confidence. None who knew him 
doubted his certain promotion to high command if his 
life were spared. The very embodiment of chivalry, he 
was among the first to respond to the call to arms, and, 
alas ! he was among the earliest martyrs to the cause he 
so promptly espoused. As he rode into the storm of 
lead, he turned to me and said : " Give me your hand, 
Gordon, and let me bid you good-by. I am going to be 
killed in this battle. I shall be dead in half an hour." 
I endeavored to remove this impression from his mind, 
but nothing I could say changed or appeared to modify 



it in any degree. I was grieved to have him go into the 
fight with such a burden upon him, but there was no 
tremor in his voice, no hesitation in his words, no doubt 
on his mind. The genial smile that made his face so 
attractive was still upon it, but he insisted that he would 
be dead in half an hour, and that it was " all right." 
The half -hour had scarcely passed when the fatal bullet 
had numbered him with the dead. 

Doubtless there were many of these presentiments 
which were misleading, but I am inclined to believe that 
those which were never realized were not such clear per- 
ceptions of coming fate as in this case. They were prob- 
ably the natural and strong apprehensions which any 
man is liable to feel, indeed must feel if he is a reason- 
able being, as he goes into a consuming fire. There 
were many cases, however, which seemed veritable vi- 
sions into futurity. 

General J. Warren Keifer, of Springfield, Ohio, a 
prominent Union officer in the war between the States 
and Major-General of Volunteers in the recent war with 
Spain, gave me in a letter of January 18, 1898, an ac- 
count of the accurate predictions made by two of his 
officers as to approaching death. The first case was that 
of Colonel Aaron W. Ebright, of the One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth Ohio Regiment, who was killed at Opequan, 
Virginia, September 19, 1864. General Keifer encloses 
me this memorandum, written at some previous date : 

Colonel Ebright had a premonition of his death. A few mo- 
ments before 12 m. he sought me, and coolly told me he would 
he killed before the battle ended. He insisted upon telling me 
that he wanted his remains and effects sent to his home in Lan- 
caster, Ohio, and I was asked to write his wife as to some prop- 
erty in the West which he feared she did not know about. He 
was impatient when I tried to remove the thought of imminent 
death from his mind. A few moments later the time for another 
advance came and the interview with Colonel Ebright closed. 


In less than ten minutes, while he was riding near me, he fell 
dead from his horse, pierced in the breast by a rifle-ball. His 
apprehension of death was not prompted by fear. He had been 
through the slaughters of the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, had 
fought his regiment in the dead-angle of Spottsylvania, and led 
it at Monocacy. It is needless to say I complied with his 

Another remarkable presentiment to which General 
Keifer has called my attention was that of Captain 
"William A. Hathaway, who served on General Keifer's 
staff as assistant adjntant-general. At Monocacy, Mary- 
land, July 9, 1864, where my division did the bulk of 
the fighting for the Confederates, Captain Hathaway as- 
sured his brother officers of the certainty of his early 
death. Turning a deaf ear to their efforts to drive the 
presentiment from his mind, he rode bravely into the 
storm, and fell at almost the first deadly volley. 

Colonel Warren Akin was one of Georgia's leading 
lawyers before the war. He was a Whig and a Union 
man and opposed to secession, but followed his State 
when she left the Union. Although he was neither by 
profession nor practice a politician, his recognized abil- 
ity, and the universal confidence of the people in his in- 
tegrity as well as in his fidelity to every trust, caused his 
power to be felt in the State, and led a great political 
party to nominate him before the war as candidate for 
governor. Few men of his day were better known or more 
loved and respected. He was a Christian without cant, 
and his courage, while conspicuous, had in it none of the 
elements of wanton recklessness. He was a thoughtful, 
brave, and balanced man. In 1861 and 1863 he was 
Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. Dur- 
ing the remainder of the war he was a member from 
Georgia of the Confederate House of Representatives, 
where he was an ardent and faithful champion of Presi- 
dent Davis and his administration. 


A revelation or soul- sight so strange and true came to 
him shortly before Lee's surrender that it seems neces- 
sary to accompany its insertion here by this hasty 
analysis of his exalted mental and moral characteristics. 
Just before day on the morning of February 8, 1865, 
while in Richmond, he had a vision — whether an actual 
dream or some inexplicable manifestation akin thereto 
he never knew. In this vision he saw his eldest son 
lying on his back at the foot of a chinaberry-tree on 
the sidewalk in front of the home he then occupied in 
Elberton, Georgia, his head in a pool of blood. He ran 
to him, found him not dead but speechless and uncon- 
scious, raised him up by his left hand, and the blood ran 
out of his right ear. With a start, Colonel Akin came 
to full consciousness, inexpressibly disturbed. He imme- 
diately decided to leave for home, telegraphic communi- 
cation being cut off. But in a few minutes he received 
a cheerful letter from his wife, stating that all were well, 
and this reassured him. On the afternoon of the second 
day after, this son was thrown from a horse against this 
same chinaberry-tree, at the foot of which he lay, uncon- 
scious and speechless ; and a neighbor, seeing him fall, 
ran up to him, grasped him by his left hand, and lifted 
him from the pool of blood which ran from his right ear. 
On the third day after the boy died, unconscious to the 
end. Colonel Akin knew nothing of his death until 
about three weeks later, no intelligence of the sad event 
reaching him sooner because of interrupted mails. Thus 
happened, two days after he foresaw it, a tragedy which 
from its nature was wholly unexpected, and which oc- 
curred in minutest detail exactly as Colonel Akin had 
seen it in his vision of the night. 

Major-General Ramseur, of North Carolina, was an 
officer whose record was equalled by few in the Confed- 
erate army. He had won his major-general's stars and 
wreath by his notable efficiency on the march and in the 


camp, as well as in battle. Of the men of high- rank in 
the army with whom I was intimately associated, none 
were further removed from superstition or vain and 
unreal fancies. He had been married since the war be- 
gan, and there had been born to him, at his home in 
North Carolina, a son whom he had never seen. On the 
night preceding the great battle of Cedar Creek, the 
corps which I commanded, and in which he commanded 
a division, was filing slowly and cautiously in the darkness 
along the dim and almost impassable trail around the 
point, and just over the dangerous precipices of Mas- 
sanutten Mountain. General Ramseur and I sat on the 
bluff overlooking the field on which he was soon to lay 
down his life. He talked most tenderly and beautifully 
of his wife and baby boy, whom he so longed to see. 
Finally, a little before dawn, the last soldier of the last 
division had passed the narrow defile, and the hour for 
the advance upon the Union forces had arrived. As 
General Ramseur was ready to ride into battle at the 
head of his splendid division, he said to me, "Well, 
general, I shall get my furlough to-day." I did not 
know what he meant. I did not ask what he meant. 
It was not a time for questions. But speedily the mes- 
sage came, and his furlough was granted. It came not 
by mail or wire from the War Department at Richmond, 
but from the blue lines in his front, flying on the bullet's 
wing. The chivalric soldier, the noble-hearted gentle- 
man, the loving husband, had been furloughed — forever 
furloughed from earth's battles and cares. 

My younger brother, Augustus Gordon, captain and 
later lieutenant- colonel, furnished another illustration of 
this remarkable foresight of approaching death. Brave 
and lovable, a modest though brilliant young soldier, he 
was rapidly winning his way to distinction. A youth of 
scarcely twenty-one years, he was in command of the 
Sixth Regiment of Alabama. Before going into the fight 


in the Wilderness, he quietly said : "My hour has come." 
I joked and chided him. I told him that he must not 
permit such impressions to affect or take hold upon his 
imagination. He quickly and firmly replied : " You need 
not doubt me. I will be at my post. But this is our last 
meeting." Riding at the head of his regiment, with his 
sword above him, the fire of battle in his eye and words 
of cheer for his men on his lips, the fatal grape-shot 
plunged through his manly heart, and the noble youth 
slept his last sleep in that woful Wilderness. 

It would require a volume simply to record without 
comment the hundreds of such presentiments in both 
the Union and Confederate armies during the war. The 
few here noted will suffice, however, to raise the inquiry 
as to what they meant. Who shall furnish a satisfactory 
solution? What were these wonderful presentiments? 
They were not the outpourings of a disordered brain. 
They came from minds thoroughly balanced, clear and 
strong — minds which worked with the precision of per- 
fect machinery, even amid the excitement and fury of 
battle. They were not the promptings of an unmanly 
fear of danger or apprehension of death; for no men 
ever faced both danger and death with more absolute 
self-poise, sublimer courage, or profounder consecration. 
Nor were these presentiments mere speculations as to 
chances. They were perceptions. There was about 
them no element of speculation. Their conspicuous 
characteristic was certainty. The knowledge seemed so 
firmly fixed that no argument as to possible mistake, no 
persuasion, could shake it. Where did that knowledge 
come from ? It seems to me there can be but one answer, 
and that answer is another argument for immortality. 
It was the whispering of the Infinite beyond us to 
the Infinite within us — a whispering inaudible to the 
natural ear, but louder than the roar of battle to the 
spirit that heard it. 


There was another class of soldiers who had a sort of 
blind faith in their own invulnerability ; but it differed 
wholly, radically, -from the presentiments which I am 
considering. Several of these cases came also under my 
immediate observation. In one case, this blind faith, as 
I term it, was the result of long army experience of the 
man whose remarkable escape from wounds in several 
wars had left upon his mind its natural effect. In an- 
other case it was a highly developed belief in the doctrine 
of predestination, which gave great comfort to its pos- 
sessor, adding to the courage that was inherent in him 
another element which rendered him indifferent, appar- 
ently, to exposure to fire or protection from it. 

The first illustration was that of a soldier under my com- 
mand — Vickers of the Sixth Alabama Regiment. There 
was no better soldier in either army than Vickers. He 
had passed unscathed through two previous wars, in 
Mexico, I believe, and in Nicaragua. He was in every 
battle with his regiment in our Civil War until his death, 
and always at the front. The greater the danger, the 
higher his spirits seemed to soar. The time came, how- 
ever, when his luck, or fate, in whose fickle favor he so 
implicitly trusted, deserted him. At Antietam — Sharps- 
burg — I called for some one who was willing to take 
the desperate chances of carrying a message from me to 
the commander on my right. Vickers promptly volun- 
teered, with some characteristic remark which indicated 
his conviction that he was not born to be killed in battle. 
There was a cross-fire from two directions through which 
he had to pass and of which he had been advised; but 
he bounded away with the message almost joyously. 
He had not gone many steps from my side when a ball 
through his head, the first and last that ever struck him, 
had placed this brave soldier beyond the possibility of 
realizing, in this world at least, the treachery of that fate 
on which he depended,, 


The other case was that of Lieutenant-General D. H. 
Hill, and the particular occasion which I select, and 
which aptly illustrates his remarkable faith, was the 
battle of Malvern Hill. At that time he was major-gen- 
eral of the division in which I commanded Rodes's brigade. 
He was my friend. The personal and official relations 
between us, considering the disparity in our ages, were 
most cordial and even intimate. He was closely allied 
to Stonewall Jackson, and in many respects his counter- 
part. His brilliant career as a soldier is so well known 
that any historical account of it, in such a book as I am 
writing, would be wholly unnecessary. I introduce him 
here as a most conspicuous illustration of a faith in 
Providence which, in its steadiness and strength and in 
its sustaining influence under great peril, certainly 
touched the margin of the sublime. At Malvern Hill, 
where General McClellan made his superb and last stand 
against General Lee's forces, General Hill took his seat 
at the root of a large tree and began to write his orders. 
At this point McClellan's batteries from the crest of a 
high ridge, and his gunboats from the James River, were 
ploughing up the ground in every direction around us. 
The long shells from the gunboats, which our men called 
"McClellan's gate-posts," and the solid shot from his 
heavy guns on land, were knocking the Confederate 
batteries to pieces almost as fast as they could be placed 
in position. The Confederate artillerists fell so rapidly 
that I was compelled to detail untrained infantry to take 
their places. And yet there sat that intrepid officer, 
General D. H. Hill, in the midst of it all, coolly writing 
his orders. He did not place the large tree between him- 
self and the destructive batteries, but sat facing them. 
I urged him to get on the other side of the tree and 
avoid such needless and reckless exposure. He replied, 
" Don't worry about me ; look after the men. I am not 
going to be killed until my time comes." He had 


scarcely uttered these words when a shell exploded in 
our immediate presence, severely shocking me for the 
moment, a portion of it tearing through the breast of his 
coat and rolling him over in the newly ploughed ground. 
This seemed to convert him to a more rational faith ; for 
lie rose from the ground, and, shaking the dirt from his 
uniform, quietly took his seat on the other side of the 

As for myself, I was never in a battle without realizing 
that every moment might be my last ; but I never had a 
presentiment of certain death at a given time or in a 
particular battle. There did come to me, on one occa- 
sion, a feeling that was akin to a presentiment. It was, 
however, the result of no supposed perception of certain 
coming fate, but an unbidden, unwelcome calculation of 
chances — suggested by the peculiar circumstances in 
which I found myself at the time. It was at Winchester, 
in the Valley of Virginia. My command was lying al- 
most in the shadow of a frowning fortress in front, in 
which General Milroy, of the Union army, was strongly 
intrenched with forces which we had been fighting dur- 
ing the afternoon. In the dim twilight, with the glimmer 
of his bayonets and brass howitzers still discernible, I 
received an order to storm the fortress at daylight the 
next morning. To say that I was astounded at the 
order would feebly express the sensation which its read- 
ing produced ; for on either side of the fort was an open 
country, miles in width, through which Confederate 
troops could easily pass around and to the rear of the 
fort, cutting off General Milroy from the base of his sup- 
plies, and thus forcing him to retire and meet us in the 
open field. There was nothing for me to do, however, 
but to obey the order. As in the night I planned the as- 
sault and thought of the dreadful slaughter that awaited 
my men, there came to me, as I have stated, a calcula- 
tion as to chances, which resulted in the conclusion that I 


had not one chance in a thousand to live through it. The 
weary hours of the night had nearly passed, and by the 
dim light of my bivouac fire I wrote, with pencil, what 
I supposed was my last letter to Mrs. Gordon, who, as 
usual, was near me. I summoned my quartermaster, 
whose duties did not call him into the fight, and gave 
him the letter, with directions to deliver it to Mrs. Gor- 
don after I was dead. Mounting my horse, my men now 
ready, I spoke to them briefly and encouraged them to 
go with me into the fort. Before the dawn we were 
moving, and soon ascending the long slope. At every 
moment I expected the storm of shell and ball that would 
end many a life, my own among them ; but on we swept, 
and into the fort, to find not a soldier there ! It had 
been evacuated during the night. 



Continuous fighting between McClellan's and Lee's armies— Hurried 
burial of the dead— How "Stonewall" Jackson got his name— The 
secret of his wonderful power— The predicament of my command at 
Malvern Hill— A fruitless wait for reinforcements — Character the 
basis of true courage— Anecdote of General Polk. 

AFTER the bloody encounter at Seven Pines, or Fair 
Oaks, the dead of both armies were gathered, under 
a flag of truce, for burial. An inspection of the field 
revealed a scene sickening and shocking to those whose 
sensibilities were not yet blunted by almost constant 
contact with such sights. It would not require a very 
vivid imagination to write of Chickahominy's flooded 
swamps as " incarnadined waters," in which floated side 
by side the dead bodies clad in blue and in gray. All 
over the field near the swamp were scattered in indis- 
criminate confusion the motionless forms and ghastly 
faces of fellow-countrymen who had fallen bravely fight- 
ing each other in a battle for principles— enemies the 
day before, but brothers then in the cold embrace of an 
honorable death. Dying at each other's hands in sup- 
port of profoundly cherished convictions, their released 
spirits had ascended together on the battle's flame to 
receive the reward of the unerring tribunal of last appeal. 
The fighting between the armies of McClellan and Lee 
was so nearly continuous, and engagement succeeded 
engagement so rapidly, that at some points the killed 



were hurriedly and imperfectly buried. I myself had a 
most disagreeable reminder of this fact. The losses in 
Rodes's brigade, which I was then commanding, had 
been so heavy that it was held with other troops as a 
reserved corps. Our experiences, however, on the partic- 
ular day of which I now speak had been most trying, 
and after nightfall I was directed to move to a portion 
of the field where the fighting had been desperate on the 
preceding day, and to halt for the night in a woodland. 
Overcome with excessive fatigue, as soon as the desig- 
nated point was reached I delivered my horse to a courier 
and dropped down on the ground for a much-needed 
rest. In a few moments I was sound asleep. A slightly 
elevated mound of earth served for a pillow. Frequently 
during the night I attempted to brush away from my 
head what I thought in my slumber was a twig or limb 
of the underbrush in which I was lying. My horror can 
be imagined when I discovered, the next morning, that 
it was the hand of a dead soldier sticking out above the 
shallow grave which had been my pillow and in which 
he had been only partly covered. 

Up to this period my association with General Jack- 
son (Stonewall) had not been sufficiently close for me 
clearly to comprehend the secret of his wonderful suc- 
cess, but I learned it a few days later at Malvern Hill. 
The sobriquet " Stonewall " was applied to him during the 
first great engagement of the war at Manassas, or Bull 
Run. His brigade was making a superb stand against 
General McDowell's column, which had been thrown 
with such momentum upon the Southern flank as to 
threaten the destruction of the whole army. General 
Bee, of South Carolina, whose blood was almost the 
earliest sprinkled on the Southern altar, determined to 
lead his own brigade to another charge, and looking 
across the field, he saw Jackson's men firmly, stubbornly 
resisting the Federal advance. General Bee, in order to 


kindle in the breasts of his men the ardor that glowed 
in his own, pointed to Jackson's line and exclaimed: 
" See, there stands Jackson like a stone wall ! " Bee him- 
self fell in the charge, but he had christened Jackson 
and his brigade by attaching to them a peculiar and dis- 
tinctive name which will live while the history of our 
Civil War lives. 

I have said that at Malvern Hill I learned the secret 
of Jackson's wonderful power and success as a soldier. 
It was due not only to his keen and quick perception of 
the situation in which he found himself at each moment 
in the rapidly changing scenes as the battle progressed 
or before it began, but notably to an implicit faith in 
his own judgment when once made up. He would for- 
mulate that judgment, risk his last man upon its cor- 
rectness, and deliver the stunning blow, while others 
less gifted were hesitating and debating as to its wisdom 
and safety. Whatever this peculiar power may be called, 
this mental or moral gift, whether inspiration or intui- 
tion, it was in him a profound conviction that he was 
not mistaken, that the result would demonstrate that 
the means he employed must necessarily attain the end 
which he thought to accomplish. The incident to which 
I refer was trivial in itself, but it threw a flood of light 
upon his marvellous endowment. I sat on my horse, 
facing him and receiving instructions from him, when 
Major-General Whiting, himself an officer of high capa- 
city, rode up in great haste and interrupted Jackson as 
he was giving to me a message to General Hill. With 
some agitation, Whiting said : " General Jackson, I find, 
sir, that I cannot accomplish what you have directed 
unless you send me some additional infantry and an- 
other battery " ; and he then proceeded to give the 
reasons why the order could not be executed with the 
forces at his disposal. All this time, while Whiting ex- 
plained and argued, Jackson sat on his horse like a stone 


statue. He looked neither to the right nor the left. He 
made no comment and asked no questions; but when 
Whiting had finished, Jackson turned his flashing eyes 
upon him and used these words, and only these : "I have 
told you what I wanted done, General Whiting"; and 
planting his spurs in his horse's sides, he dashed away 
at a furious speed to another part of the field. Whiting 
gazed at Jackson's disappearing figure in amazement, 
if not in anger, and then rode back to his command. 
The result indicated the accuracy of Jackson's judgment 
and the infallibility of his genius, for Whiting did ac- 
complish precisely what Jackson intended, and he did it 
with the force which Jackson had placed in his hands. 

Returning, after my interview with Jackson, to my 
position on the extreme right, I found General Hill in a 
fever of impatience for the advance upon McClellan's 
troops, who were massed, with their batteries, on the 
heights in our front. The hour for the general assault 
which was to be made in the afternoon by the whole 
Confederate army had come and passed. There had 
been, however, the delays usual in all such concerted 
movements. Some of the divisions had not arrived 
upon the field; others, from presumably unavoidable 
causes, had not taken their places in line : and the few 
remaining hours of daylight were passing. Finally a 
characteristic Confederate yell was heard far down the 
line. It was supposed to be the beginning of the pro- 
posed general assault. General Hill ordered me to lead 
the movement on the right, stating that he would hurry 
in the supports to take their places on both my flanks 
and in rear of my brigade. I made the advance, but the 
supports did not come. Indeed, with the exception of 
one other brigade, which was knocked to pieces in a few 
minutes, no troops came in view. Isolated from the 
rest of the army and alone, my brigade moved across this 
shell-ploughed plain toward the heights, which were per- 


haps more than half a mile away. Within fifteen or 
twenty minutes the centre regiment (Third Alabama), 
with which I moved, had left more than half of its number 
dead and wounded along its track, and the other regi- 
ments had suffered almost as severely. One shell had 
killed six or seven men in my immediate presence. My 
pistol, on one side, had the handle torn off ; my canteen, 
on the other, was pierced, emptying its contents — water 
merely — on my trousers; and my coat was ruined by 
having a portion of the front torn away : but, with the 
exception of this damage, I was still unhurt. At the foot 
of the last steep ascent, near the batteries, I found that 
McClellan's guns were firing over us, and as any further 
advance by this unsupported brigade would have been 
not only futile but foolhardy, I halted my men and 
ordered them to lie down and fire upon McClellan's 
standing lines of infantry. I stood upon slightly ele- 
vated ground in order to watch for the reinforcements, 
or for any advance from the heights upon my command. 
In vain I looked behind us for the promised support. 
Anxiously I looked forward, fearing an assault upon my 
exposed position. No reenforcements came until it was 
too late. As a retreat in daylight promised to be almost 
or quite as deadly as had been the charge, my desire for 
the relief which nothing but darkness could now bring 
can well be imagined. In this state of extreme anxiety 
a darkness which was unexpected and terrible came to 
me alone. A great shell fell, buried itself in the ground, 
and exploded near where I stood. It heaved the dirt over 
me, filling my face and ears and eyes with sand. I was lit- 
erally blinded. Not an inch before my face could I see ; 
but I could think, and thoughts never ran more swiftly 
through a perplexed mortal brain. Blind! Blind in 
battle ! Was this to be permanent ? Suppose reenforce- 
ments now came, what was I to do? Suppose there 
should be an assault upon my command from the front ? 


Such were the unspoken but agonizing questions which 
throbbed in my brain with terrible swiftness and inten- 
sity. The blindness, however, was of short duration. 
The delicate and perfect machinery of the eye soon did 
its work. At last came, also, the darkness for which I 
longed, and under its thick veil this splendid brigade 
was safely withdrawn. 

Large bodies of troops had been sent forward, or 
rather led forward, by that intrepid commander, Gen- 
eral Hill ; but the unavoidable delay in reaching the lo- 
cality, and other intervening difficulties, prevented them 
from ever reaching the advanced position from which 
my men withdrew. In the hurry and bustle of trying to 
get them forward, coming as they did from different 
directions, there was necessarily much confusion, and 
they were subjected to the same destructive fire through 
which my troops had previously passed. In the dark- 
ness, even after the firing had ceased, there occurred, in 
the confusion, among these mixed up bodies of men, 
many amusing mistakes as to identity, and some alter- 
cations between officers which were not so amusing and 
not altogether complimentary. One of my men ran to 

me and asked, " Did you hear say to that he 

and his men," etc. — I forbear to quote the remaining part 
of the question. I replied that I had not heard it, but if 
it had occurred as reported to me we would probably 
hear of it again— and we did. Early the next morning 
a challenge was sent, but the officer who had given the 
offence was in a playful mood when the challenge reached 
him; so, instead of accepting it, or answering it in the 
formal style required by the duelling code, he replied in 
about these words : 

My dear : I did not volunteer to fight you or any other 

Confederate, but if you and your men will do better in the next 
battle I will take back all I said to you last night. In the mean- 
time, I am, Very truly yours, . 


These officers are both dead now, and I give' this in- 
complete account of the incident to show how easy it 
was to get up a light along in the sixties, if one were so 
disposed, either in a general melee with the blue-coated 
lines, or single-handed with a gray-clad comrade. 

I believe it was in this battle that was first perpetrated 
that rustic witticism which afterward became so famous 
in the army. Through one of the wide gaps made in 
the Confederate lines by McClellan's big guns as they 
sent their death-dealing missiles from hill and river, 
there ran a panic-stricken rabbit, flying in terror to the 
rear. A stalwart mountaineer noticed the speed and the 
direction which the rabbit took to escape from his dis- 
agreeable surroundings. He was impressed by the rab- 
bit's prudence, and shouted, so that his voice was heard 
above the din of the battle : " Go it, Molly Cottontail ! 
I wish I could go with you ! " One of his comrades near 
by caught up the refrain, and answered : " Yes, and, 'y 
golly, Jim, I 'd go with Molly, too, if it was n't for my 

"Character." What a centre shot this rough soldier 
had fired in that short sentence ! He had analyzed un- 
consciously but completely the loftiest type of courage. 
He felt like flying to the rear, as " Molly " was flying, 
but his character carried him forward. His sense of the 
awful dangers, the ominous hissing of the deadly Minie 
balls, and the whizzing of the whirling shells tearing 
through the ranks and scattering the severed limbs of 
his falling comrades around him, all conspired to bid 
him fly to the rear; but his character, that noblest of 
human endowments, commanded, " Forward ! " and for- 
ward he went. 

In this connection I am reminded of the commonplace 
but important truth that the aggregate character of a 
people of any country depends upon the personal char- 
acter of its individual citizens ; and that the stability of 


popular government depends far more upon the charac- 
ter, the individual personal character of its people, than 
it does upon any constitution that could be adopted or 
statutes that could be enacted. What would safeguards 
be worth if the character of the people did not sustain 
and enforce them ? The constitution would be broken, 
the laws defied ; riot and anarchy would destroy both, 
and with them the government itself. I am not assum- 
ing or suggesting that this country is in any present 
danger of such an experience ; but of all the countries 
on earth this one, with its universal suffrage, its diver- 
gent and conflicting interests, its immense expanse of 
territory, and its large population, made up from every 
class and clime, and still to be increased in the coming 
years, is far more dependent than any other upon the 
character of its people. It is a great support to our hope 
for the future and to our confidence in the stability of 
this government to recall now and then some illustra- 
tion of the combination of virtues which make up 
character, as they gleam with peculiar lustre through 
the darkest hours of our Civil Wai period. That war not 
only gave the occasion for its exhibition, but furnished 
the food upon which character fed and grew strong. 
There were many thousands of men in both armies who 
did not say in words, but said by deeds, that " charac- 
ter" would not let them consult their fears or obey the 
impulse of their heels. I could fill this book with such 
cases, and yet confine myself to either one of the armies. 
I received the particulars of another incident illus- 
trating this truth from a Union officer who was present 
when the desperate and successful effort was made to 
hold the little fort at Altoona, Georgia, against the 
assault by the Confederates. They had surrounded it 
and demanded its surrender. The demand was refused, 
whereupon an awful and consuming fire was opened 
upon the small force locked up in the little fortress. 


Steadily and rapidly the men fell in the fort. No place 
conld be fonnd within its dirt walls where even the 
wounded could be • laid, so as to protect them from the 
galling Confederate fire ; but still they fought and re- 
fused to surrender. Finally, in utter despair, some one 
proposed to raise the white flag. Instantly there rang 
around the fort a chorus of indignant protest: "Who 
says surrender ? Shoot the man who proposes it ! " In 
the face of the fact that at every moment the men were 
dying, and that apparently certain destruction awaited 
all, what was it that inspired that protest against sur- 
render? There is but one answer. It was character. 
Those men had been ordered there to hold that fort. A 
grave responsibility had been imposed ; a trust of most 
serious nature had been committed to them ; and al- 
though their commander had been shot down, all the 
officers killed or wounded, and the ammunition nearly 
exhausted, yet their manhood, their fidelity, their char- 
acter bade them fight on. They had no " Molly," with 
its white cotton-tail, bidding them fly to the rear, but 
they did have the suggestion of the white flag. Around 
them, as around the high-spirited Confederate at Malvern 
Hill, the storm of death in wildest fury was raging ; and 
in both cases, as in ten thousand other cases, they turned 
a deaf ear to all suggestions of personal danger. The 
answer to such suggestions, though differing in phrase- 
ology, was the same in both cases — character. 

While the heroic men at Altoona were rapidly falling 
but still fighting, with chances of successful resistance 
diminishing as each dreadful moment passed, the signal- 
flag from a spur of Kennesaw Mountain sent them that 
famous message from General Sherman : " Hold the fort. 
I am coming." 

During a visit to northern Pennsylvania, in recent 
years, an officer of that signal corps stated incidentally 
that they had succeeded in interpreting the Confederate 


signals, and that while General Johnston's army was at 
Kennesaw this Union corps caught the signal message 
announcing that Lieutenant-General Polk had just been 
killed, and that the fact was announced in the Northern 
papers as soon, or perhaps before, it was announced to 
the Southern troops. It is probable that the signal 
corps of the Southern armies were at times able to inter- 
pret the signals of the other side. In one way or another, 
the high secrets of the two sides generally leaked out 
and became the property of the opponents by right of 

The reference to General's Polk's death recalls an 
anecdote told of him in the army, which aptly illus- 
trates the great enthusiasm with which he fought, and 
which he never failed to impart to his splendid corps. 
General Leonidas Polk was a prince among men and an 
officer of marked ability. He was a bishop of the Epis- 
copal Church. His character was beautiful in its sim- 
plicity and its strength. He was an ardent admirer of 
General Cheatham, who was one of the most furious 
fighters of Johnston's army. Cheatham, when the furor 
of battle was on him, was in the habit of using four 
monosyllables which were more expressive than polished, 
but in his case they expressed with tremendous emphasis 
the " gloria certaminis." These four monosyllables, which 
became notable in the army as " Cheatham's expression," 
were : " Give 'em hell, boys ! " General Polk, as I have 
said, was an ardent admirer of General Cheatham as a 
soldier, and on one occasion, as the bishop-general rode 
along his lines, when they were charging the works in 
front, and as the rebel yell rang out his natural enthu- 
siasm carried him, for the moment, off his balance. In 
the exhilaration of the charge the bishop was lost in the 
soldier, and he shouted : " Give it to 'em, boys ! Give 
'em what General Cheatham says ! " 



Restoration of McClellan to command of the Federals— My command 
at General Lee's centre — Remarkable series of bayonet charges by 
the Union troops— How the centre was held— Bravery of the Union 
commander — A long struggle for life. 

THE war had now assumed proportions altogether 
vaster than had been anticipated by either the 
North or the South. No man at the North, perhaps no 
man on either side, had at its beginning a clearer per- 
ception of the probable magnitude of the struggle than 
General W. T. Sherman. Although he was regarded 
even then by his people as an officer of unusual promise, 
and a typical representative of the courage and con- 
stancy of the stalwart sons of the great West, yet he 
called upon himself and his prophecy the criticism of 
those whose views did not accord with his predictions. 
However uncomfortable these criticisms may have been 
to his friends, they did not seem to disturb his equa- 
nimity or force him to modify his opinion that it would 
require a vastly larger army than was generally supposed 
necessary to penetrate the heart of the South. He seemed 
to have, at that early period, a well-defined idea of the 
desperate resistance to be made by the Southern people. 
Possibly this ability to look into the future may have 
been in some measure due to a superior knowledge of 
the characteristics of the Southern people acquired dur- 
ing his former residence among them ; but whatever the 



source of his information, General Sherman lived to see 
the correctness of his opinions abundantly verified. 
Some years after the war, when General Sherman visited 
Atlanta, the brilliant and witty Henry W. Grady, in a 
speech made to him on his arrival, playfully referred to 
the former visit of the general, and to the condition in 
which that visit had left the city. Grady said : " And they 
do say, general, that you are a little careless about fire." 
General Sherman must have felt compensated for any 
allusions to the marks he had left when "marching 
through Georgia " by the courtesies shown him while in 
Atlanta, as well as by the people's appreciation of the 
remarkably generous terms offered by him to General 
Johnston's army at the surrender in North Carolina. 
Those terms were rejected in Washington because of 
their liberality. 

Like two mighty giants preparing for a test of strength, 
the Union and Confederate armies now arrayed them- 
selves for still bloodier encounters. In this encounter 
the one went down, and in that the other ; but each rose 
from its fall, if not with renewed strength, at least with 
increased resolve. In the Southwest, as well as in Vir- 
ginia, the blows between the mighty contestants came 
fast and hard. Both were in the field for two and a half 
years more of the most herculean struggle the world has 
ever witnessed. 

At Antietam, or Sharpsburg, as the Confederates call 
it, on the soil of Maryland, occurred one of the most des- 
perate though indecisive battles of modern times. The 
Union forces numbered about 60,000, the Confederates 
about 35,000. This battle left its lasting impress upon 
my body as well as upon my memory. 

General George B. McClellan, after his displacement, 
had been again assigned to the command of the Union 
forces. The restoration of this brilliant soldier seemed 
to have imparted new life to that army. Vigorously 


following up the success achieved at South Mountain, 
McClellan, on the 16th day of September, 1862, marshalled 
his veteran legions on the eastern hills bordering the 
Antietam. On the opposite slopes, near the picturesque 
village of Sharpsburg, stood the embattled lines of Lee. 
As these vast American armies, the one clad in blue and 
the other in gray, stood contemplating each other from 
the adjacent hills, flaunting their defiant banners, they 
presented an array of martial splendor that was not 
equalled, perhaps, on any other field. It was in marked 
contrast with other battle-grounds. On the open plain, 
where stood these hostile hosts in long lines, listening in 
silence for the signal summoning them to battle, there 
were no breastworks, no abatis, no intervening wood- 
lands, nor abrupt hills, nor hiding-places, nor impassable 
streams. The space over which the assaulting columns 
were to march, and on which was soon to occur the tre- 
mendous struggle, consisted of smooth and gentle undu- 
lations and a narrow valley covered with green grass 
and growing corn. From the position assigned me near 
the centre of Lee's lines, both armies and the entire field 
were in view. The scene was not only magnificent to 
look upon, but the realization of what it meant was 
deeply impressive. Even in times of peace our sensi- 
bilities are stirred by the sight of a great army passing 
in review. How infinitely more thrilling in the dread 
moments before the battle to look upon two mighty 
armies upon the same plain, "beneath spread ensigns 
and bristling bayonets," waiting for the impending crash 
and sickening carnage ! 

Behind McClellan's army the country was open and 
traversed by broad macadamized roads leading to Wash- 
ington and Baltimore. The defeat, therefore, or even 
the total rout of Union forces, meant not necessarily the 
destruction of that army, but, more probably, its tempo- 
rary disorganization and rapid retreat through a country 


abounding in supplies, and toward cities rich in men and 
means. Behind Lee's Confederates, on the other hand, 
was the Potomac River, too deep to be forded by his in- 
fantry, except at certain points. Defeat and total rout 
of his army meant, therefore, not only its temporary dis- 
organization, but its possible destruction. And yet that 
bold leader did not hesitate to give battle. Such was 
his confidence in the steadfast courage and oft-tested 
prowess of his troops that he threw his lines across 
McClellan's front with their backs against the river. 
Doubtless General Lee would have preferred, as all pru- 
dent commanders would, to have the river in his front 
instead of his rear ; but he wisely, as the sequel proved, 
elected to order Jackson from Harper's Ferry, and, with 
his entire army, to meet McClellan on the eastern shore 
rather than risk the chances of having the Union com- 
mander assail him while engaged in crossing the Potomac. 
On the elevated points beyond the narrow valley the 
Union batteries were rolled into position, and the Con- 
federate heavy guns unlimbered to answer them. For 
one or more seconds, and before the first sounds reached 
us, we saw the great volumes of white smoke rolling 
from the mouths of McClellan's artillery. The next sec- 
ond brought the roar of the heavy discharges and the 
loud explosions of hostile shells in the midst of our lines, 
inaugurating the great battle. The Confederate batteries 
promptly responded; and while the artillery of both 
armies thundered, McClellan's compact columns of in- 
fantry fell upon the left of Lee's lines with the crushing 
weight of a land-slide. The Confederate battle line was 
too weak to withstand the momentum of such a charge. 
Pressed back, but neither hopelessly broken nor dis- 
mayed, the Southern troops, enthused by Lee's presence, 
reformed their lines, and, with a shout as piercing as the 
blast of a thousand bugles, rushed in counter-charge 
upon the exulting Federals, hurled them back in con- 


fusion, and recovered all the ground that had been lost. 
Again and again, hour after hour, by charges and 
counter-charges, this portion of the field was lost and 
recovered, until the green corn that grew upon it looked 
as if it had been struck by a storm of bloody hail. 

Up to this hour not a shot had been fired in my front. 
There was an ominous lull on the left. From sheer ex- 
haustion, both sides, like battered and bleeding athletes, 
seemed willing to rest. General Lee took advantage of 
the respite and rode along his lines on the right and cen- 
tre. He was accompanied by Division Commander Gen- 
eral D. H. Hill. With that wonderful power which he 
possessed of divining the plans and purposes of his an- 
tagonist, General Lee had decided that the Union com- 
mander's next heavy blow would fall upon our centre, 
and those of us who held that important position were 
notified of this conclusion. We were cautioned to be 
prepared for a determined assault and urged to hold that 
centre at any sacrifice, as a break at that point would 
endanger his entire army. My troops held the most ad- 
vanced position on this part of the field, and there was 
no supporting line behind us. It was evident, therefore, 
that my small force was to receive the first impact of 
the expected charge and to be subjected to the deadliest 
fire. To comfort General Lee and General Hill, and 
especially to make, if possible, my men still more reso- 
lute of purpose, I called aloud to these officers as they 
rode away : " These men are going to stay here, Gen- 
eral, till the sun goes down or victory is won." Alas ! 
many of the brave fellows are there now. 

General Lee had scarcely reached his left before the 
predicted assault came. The day was clear and beauti- 
ful, with scarcely a cloud in the sky. The men in blue 
filed down the opposite slope, crossed the little stream 
(Antietam), and formed in my front, an assaulting col- 
umn four lines deep. The front line came to a " charge 


bayonets," the other lines to a "right shoulder shift." 
The brave Union commander, superbly mounted, placed 
himself in front, while his band in rear cheered them 
with martial music. It was a thrilling spectacle. The 
entire force, I concluded, was composed of fresh troops 
from Washington or some camp of instruction. So far 
as I could see, every soldier wore white gaiters around 
his ankles. The banners above them had apparently 
never been discolored by the smoke and dust of battle. 
Their gleaming bayonets flashed like burnished silver in 
the sunlight. With the precision of step and perfect 
alignment of a holiday parade, this magnificent array 
moved to the charge, every step keeping time to the tap 
of the deep-sounding drum. As we stood looking upon 
that brilliant pageant, I thought, if I did not say, " What 
a pity to spoil with bullets such a scene of martial 
beauty ! " But there was nothing else to do. Mars is 
not an aesthetic god; and he was directing every part 
of this game in which giants were the contestants. On 
every preceding field where I had been engaged it had 
been my fortune to lead or direct charges, and not to re- 
ceive them ; or else to move as the tides of battle swayed 
in the one direction or the other. Now my duty was to 
move neither to the front nor to the rear, but to stand 
fast, holding that centre under whatever pressure and 
against any odds. 

Every act and movement of the Union commander in 
my front clearly indicated his purpose to discard bul- 
lets and depend upon bayonets. He essayed to break 
through Lee's centre by the crushing weight and mo- 
mentum of his solid column. It was my business to 
prevent this ; and how to do it with my single line was 
the tremendous problem which had to be solved, and 
solved quickly; for the column was coming. As I saw 
this solid mass of men moving upon me with determined 
step and front of steel, every conceivable plan of meet- 


ing and repelling it was rapidly considered. To oppose 
man against man and strength against strength was 
impossible ; for there were four lines of blue to my one 
of gray. My first impulse was to open fire upon the 
compact mass as soon as it came within reach of my 
rifles, and to pour into its front an incessant hail-storm 
of bullets during its entire advance across the broad, 
open plain; but after a moment's reflection that plan 
was also discarded. It was rejected because, during the 
few minutes required for the column to reach my line, I 
-could not hope to kill and disable a sufficient number of 
the enemy to reduce his strength to an equality with 
mine. The only remaining plan was one which I had 
never tried but in the efficacy of which I had the utmost 
faith. It was to hold my fire until the advancing Fed- 
erals were almost upon my lines, and then turn loose a 
sheet of flame and lead into their faces. I did not be- 
lieve that any troops on earth, with empty guns in their 
hands, could withstand so sudden a shock and withering 
a fire. The programme was fixed in my own mind, all 
horses were sent to the rear, and my men were at once 
directed to lie down upon the grass aud clover. They 
were quickly made to understand, through my aides and 
line officers, that the Federals were coming upon them 
with unloaded guns ; that not a shot would be fired at 
them, and that not one of our rifles was to be discharged 
until my voice should be heard from the centre command- 
ing " Fire ! " They were carefully instructed in the 
details. They were notified that I would stand at the 
centre, watching the advance, while they were lying 
upon their breasts with rifles pressed to their shoulders, 
and that they were not to expect my order to fire until 
the Federals were so close upon us that every Confede- 
rate bullet would take effect. 

There was no artillery at this point upon either side, 
and not a rifle was discharged. The stillness was liter- 


ally oppressive, as in close order, with the commander 
still riding in front, this column of Union infantry moved 
majestically in the charge. In a few minutes they were 
within easy range of our rifles, and some of my impa- 
tient men asked permission to fire. " Not yet," I replied. 
" Wait for the order." Soon they were so close that we 
might have seen the eagles on their buttons; but my 
brave and eager boys still waited for the order. Now 
the front rank was within a few rods of where I stood. 
It would not do to wait another second, and with all my 
lung power I shouted " Fire ! " 

My rifles flamed and roared in the Federals' faces like 
a blinding blaze of lightning accompanied by the quick 
and deadly thunderbolt. The effect was appalling. The 
entire front line, with few exceptions, went down in the 
consuming blast. The gallant commander and his horse 
fell in a heap near where I stood — the horse dead, the 
rider unhurt. Before his rear lines could recover from 
the terrific shock, my exultant men were on their feet, 
devouring them with successive volleys. Even then 
these stubborn blue lines retreated in fairly good order. 
My front had been cleared ; Lee's centre had been saved ; 
and yet not a drop of blood had been lost by my men. 
The result, however, of this first effort to penetrate the 
Confederate centre did not satisfy the intrepid Union 
commander. Beyond the range of my rifles he reformed 
his men into three lines, and on foot led them to the 
second charge, still with unloaded guns. This advance 
was also repulsed; but again and again did he advance 
in four successive charges in the fruitless effort to break 
through my lines with the bayonets. Finally his troops 
were ordered to load. He drew up in close rank and 
easy range, and opened a galling fire upon my line. 

I must turn aside from my story at this point to ex- 
press my regret that I have never been able to ascertain 
the name of this lion-hearted Union officer. His indom- 


itable will and great courage have been equalled oh other 
fields and in both armies; but I do not believe they 
have ever been surpassed. Just before I fell and was 
borne unconscious from the field, I saw this undaunted 
commander attempting to lead his men in another 

The fire from these hostile American lines at close 
quarters now became furious and deadly. The list of 
the slain was lengthened with each passing moment. I 
was not at the front when, near nightfall, the awful 
carnage ceased; but one of my officers long afterward 
assured me that he could have walked on the dead bodies 
of my men from one end of the line to the other. This, 
perhaps, was not literally true ; but the statement did 
not greatly exaggerate the shocking slaughter. Before 
I was wholly disabled and carried to the rear, I walked 
along my line and found an old man and his son lying 
side by side. The son was dead, the father mortally 
wounded. The gray-haired hero called me and said: 
" Here we are. My boy is dead, and I shall go soon ; 
but it is all right." Of such were the early volunteers. 

My extraordinary escapes from wounds in all the pre- 
vious battles had made a deep impression upon my com- 
rades as well as upon my own mind. So many had fallen 
at my side, so often had balls and shells pierced and 
torn my clothing, grazing my body without drawing a 
drop of blood, that a sort of blind faith possessed my 
men that I was not to be killed in battle. This be- 
lief was evidenced by their constantly repeated expres- 
sions : " They can't hurt him." " He 's as safe one place 
as another." " He 's got a charmed life." 

If I had allowed these expressions of my men to have 
any effect upon my mind the impression was quickly 
dissipated when the Sharpsburg storm came and the 
whizzing Minies, one after another, began to pierce my 


The first volley from the Union lines in my front sent 
a ball through the brain of the chivalric Colonel Tew, of 
North Carolina, to whom I was talking, and another ball 
through the calf of my right leg. On the right and the 
left my men were falling under the death-dealing cross- 
fire like trees in a hurricane. The persistent Federals, 
who had lost so heavily from repeated repulses, seemed 
now determined to kill enough Confederates to make the 
debits and credits of the battle's balance-sheet more 
nearly even. Both sides stood in the open at short range 
and without the semblance of breastworks, and the firing 
was doing a deadly work. Higher up in the same leg I 
was again shot; but still no bone was broken. I was 
able to walk along the line and give encouragement to 
my resolute riflemen, who were firing with the coolness 
and steadiness of peace soldiers in target practice. 
When later in the day the third ball pierced my left 
arm, tearing asunder the tendons and mangling the flesh, 
they caught sight of the blood running down my fingers, 
and these devoted and big-hearted men, while still load- 
ing their guns, pleaded with me to leave them and go to 
the rear, pledging me that they would stay there and 
fight to the last. I could not consent to leave them in 
such a crisis. The surgeons were all busy at the field- 
hospitals in the rear, and there was no way, therefore, of 
stanching the blood, but I had a vigorous constitution, 
and this was doing me good service. 

A fourth ball ripped through my shoulder, leaving its 
base and a wad of clothing in its track. I could still 
stand and walk, although the shocks and loss of blood 
had left but little of my normal strength. I remembered 
the pledge to the commander that we would stay there 
till the battle ended or night came. I looked at the sun. 
It moved very slowly ; in fact, it seemed to stand still. 
I thought I saw some wavering in my line, near the 
extreme right, and Private Vickers, of Alabama, volun- 


teered to carry any orders I might wish to send. I 
directed him to go quickly and remind the men of the 
pledge to General Lee, and to say to them that I was 
still on the field and intended to stay there. He bounded 
away like an Olympic racer ; but he had gone less than 
fifty yards when he fell, instantly killed by a ball through 
his head. I then attempted to go myself, although I was 
bloody and faint, and my legs did not bear me steadily. 
I had gone but a short distance when I was shot down 
by a fifth ball, which struck me squarely in the face, 
and passed out, barely missing the jugular vein. I fell 
forward and lay unconscious with my face in my cap ; 
and it would seem that I might have been smothered 
by the blood running into my cap from this last wound 
but for the act of some Yankee, who, as if to save my 
life, had at a previous hour during the battle, shot a 
hole through the cap, which let the blood out. 

I was borne on a litter to the rear, and recall nothing 
more till revived by stimulants at a late hour of the 
night. I found myself lying on a pile of straw at an old 
barn, where our badly wounded were gathered. My 
faithful surgeon, Dr. Weatherly, who was my devoted 
friend, was at my side, with his fingers on my pulse. 
As I revived, his face was so expressive of distress 
that I asked him : " What do you think of my case, 
Weatherly?" He made a manly effort to say that he 
was hopeful. I knew better, and said : " You are not 
honest with me. You think I am going to die ; but I 
am going to get well." Long afterward, when the dan- 
ger was past, he admitted that this assurance was his 
first and only basis of hope. 

General George B. Anderson, of North Carolina, whose 
troops were on my right, was wounded in the foot, but, 
it was thought, not severely. That superb man and sol- 
dier was dead in a few weeks, though his wound was 
supposed to be slight, while I was mercifully sustained 


through a long battle with wounds the combined effect 
of which was supposed to be fatal. Such are the mys- 
terious concomitants of cruel war. 

Mrs. Gordon was soon with me. When it was known 
that the battle was on, she had at once started toward 
the front. The doctors were doubtful about the pro- 
priety of admitting her to my room ; but I told them to 
let her come. I was more apprehensive of the effect of 
the meeting upon her nerves than upon mine. My face 
was black and shapeless — so swollen that one eye was 
entirely hidden and the other nearly so. My right leg 
and left arm and shoulder were bandaged and propped 
with pillows. I knew she would be greatly shocked. 
As she reached the door and looked, I saw at once that 
I must reassure her. Summoning all my strength, I 
said: "Here's your handsome (?) husband; been to an 
Irish wedding." Her answer was a suppressed scream, 
whether of anguish or relief at finding me able to speak, 
I do not know. Thenceforward, for the period in which 
my life hung in the balance, she sat at my bedside, try- 
ing to supply concentrated nourishment to sustain me 
against the constant drainage. With my jaw immov- 
ably set, this was exceedingly difficult and discourag- 
ing. My own confidence in ultimate recovery, how- 
ever, was never shaken until erysipelas, that deadly foe 
of the wounded, attacked my left arm. The doctors told 
Mrs. Gordon to paint my arm above the wound three or 
four times a day with iodine. She obeyed the doctors 
by painting it, I think, three or four hundred times a 
day. Under God's providence, I owe my life to her in- 
cessant watchfulness night and day, and to her tender 
nursing through weary weeks and anxious months. 



A long convalescence — Enlivened by the author of "Georgia Scenes" 
—The movement upon Hooker's army at Chancellorsville— Remark- 
able interview between Lee and Stonewall Jackson — The secret of 
Jackson's character— The storming of Marye's Heights— Some 
famous war-horses. 

IT was nearly seven months after the battle of Antietam, 
or Sharpsburg, before I was able to return to my 
duties at the front. Even then the wound through my 
face had not healed ; but Nature, at last, did her perfect 
work, and thus deprived the army surgeons of a pro- 
posed operation. Although my enforced absence from 
the army was prolonged and tedious, it was not without 
its incidents and interest. Some of the simple-hearted 
people who lived in remote districts had quaint concep- 
tions of the size of an army. One of these, a matron 
about fifty years of age, came a considerable distance to 
seo me and to inquire about her son. She opened the 
conversation by asking : " Do you know William 1 " 

" What William, madam T " 

" My son William." 

I replied : " Eeally, I do not know whether I have ever 
met your son William or not. Can you tell me what 
regiment or brigade or division or corps he belongs to f " 

She answered : " No, I can't, but I know he belongs to 
Gin'al Lee's company." 

I think the dear old soul left with the impression that 



I was something of a fraud because I did not know 
every man in " Gin'al Lee's company"— especially Wil- 

After I had begun to convalesce, it was my privilege 
to be thrown with the author of " Georgia Scenes," 
Judge Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, who was widely 
known in the Southern States as an able jurist, a dis- 
tinguished educator, and an eminent Methodist divine, 
as well as a great humorist and wit. His book, " Georgia 
Scenes," is now rarely seen, and it may be interesting to 
those who have never known of Judge Longstreet or his 
famous stories to give an instance here of the inimitable 
fun of this many-sided genius, who aided me in whiling 
away the time of my enforced absence from the army. 
Judge Longstreet was at that time an old man, but still 
full of the fire of earlier years, and of that irresistible 
humor with which his conversation sparkled. On one 
occasion, when a number of gentlemen were present, I 
asked the judge to give us the facts which led him to 
write that remarkable story called "The Debating So- 
ciety." He said that Mr. McDuffie, who afterward be- 
came one of the South's great statesmen, was his class- 
mate and roommate at school. Both were disposed to 
stir into the monotony of school days a little seasoning 
of innocent fun. During one of the school terms, they 
were appointed a committee to select and propose to the 
society a suitable subject for debate. As they left the 
hall, Longstreet said to his friend, "Now, McDufiie, is 
our chance. If we could induce the society to adopt for 
debate some subject which sounds well, but in which 
there is no sense at all, would n't it be a great joke?" 
McDume's reply was a roar of laughter. They hastened 
to their room to begin the selection of the great subject 
for debate. They agreed that each should write all the 
high-sounding phrases he could think of, and then by 
comparing notes, and combining the best of both, they 


could make up their report. They sat up late, conferring 
and laughing at the suggestions, and at last concocted 
the question, "Whether at public elections should the 
votes of faction predominate by internal suggestions, or 
the bias of jurisprudence?" With boyish glee they pro- 
nounced their work well done, and laughed themselves 
to sleep. On the next morning their report was to be 
submitted, and the society was to vote as to its adoption. 
They arose early, full of confidence in their ability to 
palm off this wonderful subject on the society; for they 
reasoned thus: no boy will be willing to admit that he 
is less intelligent or less able to comprehend great public 
questions or metaphysical subjects than the committee, 
and therefore each one of them will at once pretend to 
be delighted at the selection, and depend upon reading 
and investigation to prepare himself for the following 
week's debate upon it. They had not miscalculated the 
chances of success, nor underestimated the boyish pride 
of their schoolmates. The question was unanimously 

It is impossible to give any conception of Judge Long- 
street's description of the debate upon the question; of 
how he and McDuffie led oft: with thoroughly prepared 
speeches full of resounding rhetoric and rounded periods, 
but as devoid of sense as the subject itself, the one argu- 
ing the affirmative, the other the negative of the propo- 
sition. Nor shall I attempt any description of Judge 
Longstreet's wonderful mimicry of the boys, many of 
whom became men of distinction in after years ; of how 
they stammered and struggled and agonized in the effort 
to rise to the height of the great argument ; and finally, 
of the effort of the president of the society, who was, of 
course, one of the schoolboj^s, to sum up the points made 
and determine on which side were the weightiest and 
most cogent arguments. Suffice it to say that I recall 
with grateful pleasure the hours spent during my con- 


valescence in the presence of this remarkable man. His 
inimitable and delicate humor was the sunshine of his 
useful and laborious life, and will remain a bright spot 
in my recollections of the sixties. 

On my return to the army, I was assigned to the 
command of perhaps the largest brigade in the Confed- 
erate army, composed of six regiments from my own 
State, Georgia. No more superb material ever filled the 
ranks of any command in any army. It was, of course, 
a most trying moment to my sensibilities when the time 
came for my parting from the old command with which 
I had passed through so many scenes of bitter trial ; but 
these men were destined to come back to me again. It 
is trite, but worth the repetition, to say that there are 
few ties stronger and more sacred than those which bind 
together in immortal fellowship men who with unfalter- 
ing faith in each other have passed through such scenes 
of terror and blood. 

Years afterward, my daughter met a small son of one 
of these brave comrades, and asked him his name. 

" Gordon Wright," was his prompt reply. 

" And for whom are you named, Gordon % " 

" I don't know, miss," he answered, " but I believe my 
mamma said I was named for General Lee." 

I had been with my new command but a short time 
when the great battle of Chancellorsville occurred. It 
was just before this bloody engagement that my young 
brother had so accurately and firmly predicted his own 
death, and it was here the immortal Jackson fell. I 
never write or pronounce this name without an impulse 
to pause in veneration for that American phenomenon. 
The young men of this country cannot study the char- 
acter of General Jackson without benefit to their man- 
hood, and for those who are not familiar with his char- 
acteristics I make this descriptive allusion to him. 

As to whether he fell by the fire of his own men, or 


from that of the Union men in his front, will perhaps 
never be definitely determined. The general, the almost 
universal, belief at the South is that he was killed by a 
volley from the Confederate lines ; but I have had grave 
doubts of this raised in my own mind by conversations 
with thoughtful Union officers who were at the time in 
his front and near the point where he was killed. It 
seems to me quite possible that the fatal ball might have 
come from either army. This much-mooted question as 
to the manner of his death is, however, of less conse- 
quence than the manner of his life. Any life of such 
nobility and strength must always be a matter of vital 
import and interest. 

At the inception of the movement upon General 
Hooker's army at Chancellorsville, a remarkable inter- 
view occurred between General Lee and General Jack- 
son, which is of peculiar interest because it illustrates, 
in a measure, the characteristics of both these great 

It was repeated to me soon after its occurrence, by the 
Rev. Dr. Lacey, who was with them at the time Jackson 
rode up to the Commander-in-Chief, and said to him: 
"General Lee, this is not the best way to move on 

"Well, General Jackson, you must remember that I 
am compelled to depend to some extent upon informa- 
tion furnished me by others, especially by the engineers, 
as to the topography, the obstructions, etc., and these 
engineers are of the opinion that this is a very good way 
of approach." 

"Your engineers are mistaken, sir." 

" What do you know about it, General Jackson ? You 
have not had time to examine the situation." 

" But I have, sir ; I have ridden over the whole field." 

And he had. Riding with the swiftness of the wind 
and looking with the eye of an eagle, he had caught the 


strong and weak points of the entire situation, and was 
back on his panting steed at the great commander's side 
to assure him that there was a better route. 
" Then what is to be done, General Jackson ! " 
"Take the route you yourself at first suggested. 
Move on the flank — move on the flank." 

" Then you will at once make the movement, sir." 
Immediately and swiftly, Jackson's " foot cavalry," as 
they were called, were rushing along a byway through 
the dense woodlaod. Soon the wild shout of his charge 
was heard on the flank and his red cross of battle was 
floating over General Hooker's breastworks. 

General Hooker, "Fighting Joe," as he was proudly 
called by his devoted followers, and whom it was my 
pleasure to meet and to know well after the war, was 
one of the brilliant soldiers of the Union army. He was 
afterward hailed as the hero of the "Battle of the 
Clouds " at Lookout Mountain, and whatever may be said 
of the small force which he met in the fight upon that 
mountain's sides and top, the conception was a bold one. 
It is most improbable that General Hooker was informed 
as to the number of Confederates he was to meet in the 
effort to capture the high and rugged Point Lookout, 
which commanded a perfect view of the city of Chat- 
tanooga and the entire field of operations around it. 
His movement through the dense underbrush, up the 
rocky steeps, and over the limestone cliffs was executed 
with a celerity and dash which reflected high credit upon 
both the commander and his men. Among these men, 
by the way, was one of those merrymakers — those dis- 
pensers of good cheer— found in both the Confederate 
and Union armies, who were veritable fountains of good- 
humor, whose spirits glowed and sparkled in all situa- 
tions, whether in the camp, on the march, or under fire. 
The special role of this one was to entertain his com- 
rades with song, and as Hooker's men were struggling 


up the sides of Lookout Mountain, climbing over the 
huge rocks, and being picked off them by the Confed- 
erate sharpshooters,* this frolicsome soldier amused and 
amazed his comrades by singing, in stentorian tones, his 
droll camp-song, the refrain of which was "Big pig, 
little pig, root hog or die." The singer was H. S. Cooper, 
now a prominent physician of Colorado. 

But to return to the consideration of General Jackson's 
character. Every right-minded citizen, as well as every 
knightly soldier, whatever the color of his uniform, will 
appreciate the beauty of the tribute paid by General Lee 
to General Jackson, when he received the latter's mes- 
sage announcing the loss of his left arm. " Go tell Gen- 
eral Jackson," said Lee, "that his loss is small compared 
to mine ; for while he loses his left arm, I lose the right 
arm of my army." No prouder or juster tribute was 
ever paid by a great commander to a soldier under him. 

But a truth of more importance than anything I have 
yet said of Jackson may be compassed, I think, in the 
observation that he added to a marvellous genius for 
war a character as man and Christian which was abso- 
lutely without blemish. His childlike trust and faith, 
the simplicity, sincerity, and constancy of his unosten- 
tatious piety, did not come with the war, nor was it 
changed by the trials and dangers of war. If the war 
affected him at all in this particular, it only intensified 
his religious devotion, because of the tremendous re- 
sponsibilities which it imposed; but long before, his 
religious thought and word and example were leading to 
the higher life young men intrusted to his care, at the 
Virginia Military Institute. In the army nothing de- 
terred or diverted him from the discharge of his religious 
duties, nor deprived him of the solace resulting from his 
unaffected trust. A deep-rooted belief in God, in His 
word and His providence, was under him and over him 
and through him, permeating every fibre of his being, 


dominating his every thought, controlling his every 
action. Wherever he went and whatever he did, whether 
he was dispensing light and joy in the family circle; im- 
parting lessons of lofty thought to his pupils in the 
schoolroom at Lexington; planning masterful strategy 
in his tent ; praying in the woods for Heaven's guidance ; 
or riding like the incarnate spirit of war through the 
storm of battle, as his resistless legions swept the field 
of carnage with the fury of a tornado — Stonewall Jack- 
son was the faithful disciple of his Divine Master. He 
died as he had lived, with his ever-active and then fevered 
brain working out the problems to which his duty called 
him, and, even with the chill of death upon him, his lov- 
ing heart prompted the message to his weary soldiers, 
"Let us cross over the river and rest in the shade of 
the trees." That his own spirit will eternally rest in the 
shade of the Tree of Life, none who knew him can for 
one moment doubt. 

An incident during this battle illustrates the bounding 
spirits of that great cavalry leader, General " Jeb " Stu- 
art. After Jackson's fall, Stuart was designated to lead 
Jackson's troops in the final charge. The soul of this 
brilliant cavalry commander was as full of sentiment as 
it was of the spirit of self-sacrifice. He was as musical 
as he was brave. He sang as he fought. Placing him- 
self at the head of Jackson's advancing lines and shout- 
ing to them " Forward," he at once led off in that song, 
" Won't you come out of the wilderness ? " He changed 
the words to suit the occasion. Through the dense 
woodland, blending in strange harmony with the rattle 
of rifles, could be distinctly heard that song and words, 
"Now, Joe Hooker, won't you come out of the wilder- 
ness 1 ?" This dashing Confederate lost his life later in 
battle near Richmond. 

While the battle was progressing at Chancellorsville, 
near which point Lee's left rested, his right extended to 


or near Fredericksburg. Early's division held this posi- 
tion, and my brigade the right of that division ; and it 
was determined that General Early should attempt, near 
sunrise, to retake the fort on Marye's Heights, from 
which the Confederates had been driven the day before. 
I was ordered to move with this new brigade, with which 
I had never been in battle, and to lead in that assault ; 
at least, such was my interpretation of the order as it 
reached me. Whether it was my fault or the fault of 
the wording of the order itself, I am not able to say; 
but there was a serious misunderstanding about it. My 
brigade was intended, as it afterward appeared, to be only 
a portion of the attacking force, whereas I had under- 
stood the order to direct me to proceed at once to the 
assault upon the fort ; and I proceeded. As I was offi- 
cially a comparative stranger to the men of this brigade, 
I said in a few sentences to them that we should know 
each other better when the battle of the day was over ; 
that I trusted we should go together into that fort, and 
that if there were a man in the brigade who did not wish 
to go with us, I would excuse him if he would step to 
the front and make himself known. Of course, there 
was no man found who desired to be excused, and I then 
announced that every man in that splendid brigade of 
Georgians had thus declared his purpose to go into the 
fortress. They answered this announcement by a pro- 
longed and thrilling shout, and moved briskly to the 
attack. When we were under full headway and under 
fire from the heights, I received an order to halt, with 
the explanation that the other troops were to unite in 
the assault ; but the order had come too late. My men 
were already under heavy fire and were nearing the fort. 
They were rushing upon it with tremendous impetuosity. 
I replied to the order that it was too late to halt then, 
and that a few minutes more would decide the result of 
the charge. General Early playfully but earnestly re- 


marked, after the fort was taken, that success had saved 
me from being court-martialed for disobedience to orders. 
During this charge I came into possession of a most 
remarkable horse, whose fine spirit convinced me that 
horses now and then, in the furor of fight, were almost 
as sentient as their riders. This was especially true of 
the high-strung thoroughbreds. At least, such was my 
experience with a number of the noble animals I rode, 
some of which it was my painful fortune to leave on the 
field as silent witnesses of the storm which had passed 
over it. At Marye's Heights, the horse which I had rid- 
den into the fight was exhausted in my effort to per- 
sonally watch every portion of my line as it swept 
forward, and he had been in some way partially dis- 
abled, so that his movements became most unsatisfac- 
tory. At this juncture the beautiful animal to which I 
have referred, and from which a Union officer had just 
been shot, galloped into our lines. I was quickly upon 
her back, and she proved to be the most superb battle- 
horse that it was my fortune to mount during the war. 
For ordinary uses she was by no means remarkable — 
merely a good saddle animal, which Mrs. Gordon often 
rode in camp, and which I called "Marye," from the 
name of the hill where she was captured. Indeed, she 
was ordinarily rather sluggish, and required free use of 
the spur. But when the battle opened she was abso- 
lutely transformed. She seemed at once to catch the 
ardor and enthusiasm of the men around her. The bones 
of her legs were converted into steel springs and her 
sinews into india-rubber. With head up and nostrils 
distended, her whole frame seemed to thrill with a de- 
light akin to that of foxhounds when the hunter's horn 
summons them to the chase. With the ease of an ante- 
lope, she would bound across ditches and over fences 
which no amount of coaxing or spurring could induce 
her to undertake when not under the excitement of 


battle. Her courage was equal to her other high quali- 
ties. She was afraid of nothing. Neither the shouting 
of troops, nor the rattle of rifles, nor the roar of artillery, 
nor their bursting shells, intimidated her in the slight- 
est degree. In addition to all this, she seemed to have 
a charmed life, for she bore me through the hottest fires 
and was never wounded. 

I recall another animal of different temperament, 
turned over to me by the quartermaster, after capture, 
in exchange, as usual, for one of my own horses. In the 
Valley of Virginia, during the retreat of the Union Gen- 
eral, Milroy, my men captured a horse of magnificent 
appearance and handsomely caparisoned. He was solid 
black in color and dangerously treacherous in disposi- 
tion. He was brought to me by his captors with the 
statement that he was General Milroy's horse, and he 
was at once christened " Milroy " by my men. I have 
no idea that he belonged to the general, for that officer 
was too true a soldier to have ridden such a beast in 
battle — certainly not after one test of his cowardice. 
His fear of Minie balls was absolutely uncontrollable. 
He came near disgracing me in the first and only fight 
in which I attempted to ride him. Indeed, if it had 
chanced to be my first appearance under fire with my 
men, they would probably have followed my example as 
they saw me flying to the rear on this elephantine brute. 
He was an immense horse of unusually fine proportions, 
and had behaved very well under the cannonading ; but 
as we drew nearer the blue lines in front, and their mus- 
ketry sent the bullets whistling around his ears, he 
wheeled and fled at such a rate of speed that I was 
powerless to check him until he had carried me more 
than a hundred yards to the rear. Fortunately, some of 
the artillerymen aided me in dismounting, and promptly 
gave me a more reliable steed, on whose back I rapidly 
returned in time to redeem my reputation. My obliga- 


tions to General Milroy were very great for having 
evacuated at night the fort at Winchester (near which 
this horse was captured), and for permitting us to move 
over its deserted and silent ramparts in perfect security ; 
but if this huge black horse were really his, General 
Milroy, in leaving him for me, had cancelled all the obli- 
gations under which he had placed me. 

This Georgia brigade, with its six splendid regiments, 
whose war acquaintance I had made at Marye's Heights, 
contributed afterward from their pittance of monthly 
pay, and bought, without my knowledge, at a fabulous 
price, a magnificent horse, and presented him to me. 
These brave and self-denying men realized that such a 
horse would cost more than I could pay. He gave me 
great comfort, and I hoped that, like " Marye," he might 
go unscathed through successive battles ; but at Monoc- 
acy, in Maryland, he paid the forfeit of his life by com- 
ing in collision with a whizzing missile, as he was proudly 
galloping along my lines, then advancing upon General 
Lew "Wallace's forces. I deeply regretted this splendid 
animal's death, not only because of his great value at 
the time, but far more because he was the gift of my 
gallant men. 

In one of the battles in the Wilderness, in 1864, and 
during a flank movement, a thoroughbred bay stallion 
was captured — a magnificent creature, said to have been 
the favorite war-horse of General Shaler, whom we also 
captured. As was customary, the horse was named for 
his former master, and was known by no other title than 
" General Shaler." My obligations to this horse are two- 
fold and memorable : he saved me from capture, when I 
had ridden, by mistake, into Sedgwick's corps by night ; 
and at Appomattox he brought me enough greenbacks 
to save me from walking back to Georgia. He was so 
handsome that a Union officer, who was a judge of 
horses, asked me if I wished to sell him. I at once as- 


sured this officer that I would be delighted to sell the 
horse or anything else I possessed, as I had not a dollar 
except Confederate money, which, at that period of its 
history, was somewhat below par. The officer, General 
Curtin, of Pennsylvania, generously paid me in green- 
backs more than I asked for the horse. I met this gen- 
tleman in 1894, nearly thirty years afterward, at Wil- 
liamsport, Pennsylvania. He gratified me again by in- 
forming me that he had sold "General Shaler" for a 
much higher price than he paid me for him. 1 

If there is a hereafter for horses, as there is a heaven 
for the redeemed among men, I fear that the old black 
traitor that ran away with me from the fight will never 
reach it, but the brave and trusty steeds that so gallantly 
bore their riders through our American Civil War will 
not fail of admittance. 

Job wrote of the war-horse that "smelleth the battle 
from afar off." Alexander the Great had his " Buceph- 
alus," that dashed away as if on wings as his daring 
master mounted him. Zachary Taylor had his "Old 
Whity," from whose mane and tail the American patri- 
ots pulled for souvenirs nearly all the hairs, as he grazed 
on the green at the White House. Lee had his " Trav- 
eller," whose memory is perpetuated in enduring bronze. 
Stonewall Jackson had his high-mettled "Old Sorrel," 
whose life was nursed with tenderest care long after the 
death of his immortal rider ; but if I were a poet I would 
ignore them all and embalm in song my own glorious 
" Marye," whose spirit I would know was that of Joan of 
Arc, if the transmigration of souls were true. 

1 Since writing this chapter, I have learned that this horse was a noted an- 
imal in the Union army, and had been named " Abe," for President Lincoln. 



The spirit of good-fellowship between Union and Confederate soldiers- 
Disappearance of personal hatred as the war progressed — The Union 
officer who attended a Confederate dance — American chivalry at 
Vicksburg— Trading between pickets on the Rappahannock— Inci- 
dents of the bravery of color-bearers on both sides — General Curtis's 
kindness— A dash for life cheered by the enemy. 

THAT inimitable story-teller, Governor Robert Tay- 
lor, of Tennessee, delights his hearers by telling in 
charming style of a faithful colored man, Allen, a slave 
of his father's. Both Allen and his owner were preachers, 
and Allen was in the habit each Saturday afternoon of 
going to his master and learning from him what his text 
for the following day's sermon would be. On this occa- 
sion the Rev. Dr. Taylor informed the Rev. Allen that 
his text for the morrow would be the words, " And he 
healed them of divers diseases." " Yes, sir," said Allen ; 
dat's a mighty good tex', and hit will be mine for my 
Sunday sarmon." Sunday came and Allen was ready. 
He announced his " tex' " in these words : " And he 
healed 'em of all sorts of diseases, and even of dat wust 
of complaints called de divers." Proceeding to an eluci- 
dation of his text, he described with much particularity 
the different kinds of diseases that earthly doctors could 
cure, and then, with deepest unction, said : " But, my con- 
gregation, if de divers ever gits one of you, jest make 
up your mind you's a gone nigger, 'cep'in' de Lord 
save you." 



In 1861 a disorder had taken possession of the minds 
of the people in every section of the country. Inter- 
necine war, contagious, infectious, confluent, was spread- 
ing, and destined to continue spreading until nearly every 
home in the land was affected and hurt by it. This 
dreadful disease had about it some wonderful compensa- 
tions. No one went through it from a high sense of 
duty without coming out of it a braver, a better, and a 
more consecrated man. It is. a great mistake to suppose 
that war necessarily demoralizes and makes obdurate 
those who wage it. Doubtless wars of conquest, for the 
sake of conquest, for the purpose of despoiling the van- 
quished and enriching the victors, and all wars inaugu- 
rated from unhallowed motives, do demoralize every man 
engaged in them, from the commanding general to the 
privates. But such was not the character of our Civil 
War. On the contrary, it became a training-school for 
the development of an unselfish and exalted manhood, 
which increased in efficiency from its opening to its 
close. At the beginning there was personal antagonism 
and even bitterness felt by individual soldiers of the two 
armies toward each other. The very sight of the uniform 
of an opponent aroused some trace of anger. But this 
was all gone long before the conflict had ceased. It was 
supplanted by a brotherly sympathy. The spirit of 
Christianity swayed the hearts of many, and its benign 
influence was perhaps felt by the great majority of both 
armies. The Rev. Charles Lane, recently a member of 
the faculty of the Georgia Technological Institute, told 
me of a soldier who could easily have captured or shot 
his antagonist at night; but the religious devotion in 
which that foe at the moment was engaged shielded him 
from molestation, and he was left alone in communion 
with his God. That knightly soldier of the Confederacy, 
whose heart so promptly sympathized with his devout 
antagonist, was also a " soldier of the cross." 


The same spirit was shown in the case of a Pennsyl- 
vania soldier who was attracted by the songs in a Con- 
federate prayer-meeting, and, without the slightest fear 
of being detained or held as prisoner, attempted in 
broad daylight to cross over and join the Confederates 
in their worship. He was ordered back by his own 
pickets ; but his officers appreciated his impulse and he 
was not subjected to the slightest punishment. In a 
European army he most likely would have been shot for 
attempted desertion, although he had made no effort 
whatever to conceal his movements or his purposes. 

The broadening of this Christian fellowship was plainly 
seen as the war progressed. The best illustration of this 
fact which I now recall is the contrast between the im- 
pulses which moved the two soldiers just mentioned, 
and that which inspired the quaint prayer of a devout 
Confederate at the beginning of the war and at the grave 
of his dead comrade. He concluded his prayer in about 
these words : " And now, Lord, we commit the body of 
our comrade to the grave, with the hope of meeting him 
again, with all the redeemed, in that great day and in the 
home prepared for thy children. For we are taught to 
believe that thy true followers shall come from the East 
and West as well as from the South ; and we cannot help 
hoping, Lord, that a few will come even from the North." 

It was not alone in the religious life of the army that 
these evidences of expanding brotherhood were exhibited. 
I should, perhaps, not exaggerate the number or im- 
portance of these evidences if I said that there were 
thousands of them which are perhaps the brightest 
illustrations and truest indices of the American soldier's 

In 1896 an officer of the Union army told me the fol- 
lowing story, which is but a counterpart of many which 
came under my own observation. A lieutenant of a 
Delaware regiment was officer of the picket-line on the 


banks of the Rappahannock. The pickets of the two 
armies were, as was usual at that time, very near each 
other and in almost constant communication. It was in 
midwinter and no movements of the armies were ex- 
pected. The Confederate officer of pickets who was on 
duty on the opposite bank of the narrow stream asked 
the Union lieutenant if he would not come over after 
dark and go with him to a farm-house near the lines, 
where certain Confederates had invited the country girls 
to a dance. The Union officer hesitated, but the Con- 
federate insisted, and promised to call for him in a boat 
after dark, and to lend him a suit of citizen's clothes, 
and pledged his honor as a soldier to see him safely back 
to his own side before daylight the next morning. The 
invitation was accepted, and at the appointed hour the 
Confederate's boat glided silently to the place of meeting 
on the opposite bank. The citizen's suit was a ludicrous 
fit, but it served its purpose. The Union soldier was in- 
troduced to the country girls as a new recruit just arrived 
in camp. He enjoyed the dance, and, returning with his 
Confederate escort, was safely landed in his own lines 
before daylight. Had the long roll of the kettledrum 
summoned the armies to battle on that same morning, 
both these officers would have been found in the lines 
under hostile ensigns, fighting each other in deadly 

In Kansas City recently an ex-Confederate recorded his 
name upon the hotel register. Mr. James Locke, of Com- 
pany E, One Hundredth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was 
in the same hotel, and observed the name on the regis- 
ter. Locke had lost a leg at the second Manassas, 
and a Confederate had carried him out of the railroad 
cut in which he lay suffering, and had ministered to 
his wants as best he could. Locke had asked this 
soldier in gray before leaving him to write his name 
in his (Locke's) war diary. The Confederate did so, 


and was then compelled to hurry forward with his 
command. He had, however, in the spirit of a true sol- 
dier, provided the suffering Pennsylvanian with a can- 
teen of water before he left him. There was nothing 
unmanly in the moistened eyes of these brave men when 
they so unexpectedly and after so many years met in 
Kansas City for the first time since they parted at the 
railroad cut on a Virginia battle-field. 

This spirit of American chivalry was exhibited almost 
everywhere on the wonderful retreat of Joseph E. John- 
ston before General Sherman from Dalton to Atlanta. 
At Resaca, at Kennesaw, along the banks of Peachtree 
Creek, and around Atlanta, between the lines that en- 
circled the doomed city, the same friendly greetings 
were heard between the pickets, and the same evidences 
of comradeship shown before the battles began and 
after they had ended. In the trenches around Vicks- 
burg, and during its long and terrible bombardment, 
the men in the outer lines would call to each other to 
stop firing for a while, that they " wanted to get out 
into fresh air ! " The call was always heeded, and both 
sides poured out of their bomb-proofs like rats from 
their holes when the cats are away. And whenever an 
order came to open fire, or the time had expired, they 
would call: "Hello, there, Johnnie," or "Hello, there, 
Yank," as the case might be. " Get into your holes now ; 
we are going to shoot." 

What could have been more touchingly beautiful than 
that scene on the Rapidan when, in the April twilight, a 
great band in the Union army suddenly broke the still- 
ness with the loved strains of " Hail Columbia, Happy 
Land," calling from the Union camps huzzas that rolled 
like reverberating thunders on the evening air. Then 
from the opposite hills and from Confederate bands the 
answer came in the thrilling strains of " Dixie." As it 
always does and perhaps always will, " Dixie " brought 


from Southern throats an impassioned response. Then, 
as if inspired from above, came the union of both 
in that immortal anthem, "Home, Sweet Home." The 
solemn and swelling cadence of these old familiar notes 
was caught by both armies, and their joint and loud 
acclamations made the climax of one of the most in- 
spiring scenes ever witnessed in war. 

The talking and joking, the trading and "swapping," 
between the pickets and between the lines became so 
prevalent before the war closed as to cause no comment 
and attract no special attention, except when the inter- 
course led the commanding officers to apprehend that 
important information might be unwittingly imparted 
to the foe. On the Rapidan and Rappahannock, into 
which the former emptied, this rollicking sort of inter- 
course would have been alarming in its intimacy but for 
the perfect confidence which the officers of both sides had 
in their men. Even officers on the opposite banks of 
this narrow stream would now and then declare a truce 
among themselves, in order that they might bathe in the 
little river. Where the water was shallow they would 
wade in and meet each other in the center and shake 
hands, and " swap " newspapers and barter Southern to- 
bacco for Yankee coffee. Where the water was deep, so 
that they could not wade in and "swap," they sent the 
articles of traffic across in miniature boats, laden on the 
Southern shore with tobacco and sailed across to the Union 
side. These little boats were unloaded by the Union sol- 
diers, reloaded, and sent back with Yankee coffee for the 
Confederates. This extraordinary international com- 
merce was carried on to such an extent that the com- 
manders of both armies concluded it was best to stop it. 
General Lee sent for me on one occasion and instructed 
me to break up the traffic. Riding along the lines, as I 
came suddenly and unexpectedly around the point of a 
hill upon one of the Confederate posts, I discovered an 


unusual commotion and confusion. I asked : " What 's 
the matter here? What is all this confusion about?" 

" Nothing at all, sir. It 's all right here, general." 

I expressed some doubt about its being all right, when 
the spokesman for the squad attempted to concoct some 
absurd explanation as to their effort to get ready to 
" present arms " to me as I came up. Of course I was 
satisfied that this was not true ; but I could see no evi- 
dence of serious irregularity. As I started, however, I 
looked back and discovered the high weeds on the bank 
shaking, and wheeling my horse, I asked : 

"What 's the matter with those weeds?" 

" Nothing at all, sir," he declared ; but I ordered him 
to break the weeds down. There I found a soldier al- 
most naked. I asked : 

"Where do you belong?" 

" Over yonder," he replied, pointing to the Union army 
on the other side. 

"And what are you doing here, sir?" 

"Well, general," he said, "I did n't think it was any 
harm to come over and see the boys just a little while." 

"What boys?" I asked. 

" These Johnnies," he said. 

" Don't you know, sir, that there is war going on in 
this country?" I asked. 

" Yes, general," he replied ; " but we are not fighting 

The fact that a battle was not then in progress given 
as an excuse for social visiting between opposing lines 
was so absurd that it overturned my equilibrium for the 
moment. If my men could have known my thoughts 
they would have been as much amused at my discomfi- 
ture as I was at the Union visitor's reasoning. An al- 
most irresistible impulse to laugh outright was overcome, 
however, by the necessity for maintaining my official 
dignity. My instructions from General Lee had been to 


break up that traffic and intercourse ; and the slightest 
lowering of my official crest would have been fatal to 
my mission. I therefore assumed the sternest aspect 
possible under the circumstances, and ordered the Union 
soldier to stand up ; and I said to him : " I am going to 
teach you, sir, that we are at war. You have no rights 
here except as prisoner of war, and I am going to have 
you marched to Richmond, and put you in prison." 

This terrible threat brought my own men quickly and 
vigorously to his defense, and they exclaimed : " Wait a 
minute, general. Don't send this man to prison. We 
invited him over here, and we promised to protect him, 
and if you send him away it will just ruin our honor." 

The object of my threat had been accomplished. I 
had badly frightened the Northern guest and his South- 
ern hosts. Turning to the scantily clad visitor, I said : 

" Now, sir, if I permit you to go back to your own 
side, will you solemnly promise me, on the honor of a 
soldier, that — " But without waiting for me to finish my 
sentence, and with an emphatic "Yes, sir," he leaped 
like a bullfrog into the river and swam back. 

I recall several incidents which do not illustrate pre- 
cisely the same elements of character, but which show 
the heroism found on both sides, of which I know few, 
if any, parallels in history. After the battle of Sharps- 
burg, there was sent to me as an aide on my staff a very 
young soldier, a mere stripling. He was at that awk- 
ward, gawky age through which all boys seem to pass. 
He bore a letter, however, from the Hon. Thomas Watts, 
of Alabama, who was the Attorney-General of the Con- 
federate States, and who assured me that this lad had 
in him all the essentials of a true soldier. It was not 
long before I found that Mr. Watts had not mistaken 
the mettle of his young friend, Thomas Gr. Jones. 
Late one evening, near sunset, I directed Jones to carry 
a message from me to General Lee or to my immediate 


superior. The route was through pine thickets and 
along dim roads or paths not easily followed. The 
Union pickets were posted at certain points in these 
dense woods; but Jones felt sure that he could go 
through safely. Alone on horseback he started on his 
hazardous ride. Darkness overtook him before he had 
emerged from the pine thicket, and he rode into a body 
of Union pickets, supposing them to be Confederates. 
There were six men on that post. They seized the bridle 
of Jones's horse, levelled their rifles at him, and ordered 
him to dismount. As there was no alternative, one can 
imagine that Jones was not slow in obeying the order. 
His captors were evidently new recruits, for they neg- 
lected to deprive him of the six-shooter at his belt. 
Jones even then had in him the oratorical power which 
afterward won for him distinction at the bar and helped 
to make him governor of the great State of Alabama. He 
soon engaged his captors in the liveliest conversation, 
telling them anecdotes and deeply enlisting their interest 
in his stories. The night was cold, and before daylight 
Jones adroitly proposed to the " boys " that they should 
make a fire, as there was no reason for shivering in the 
cold with plenty of pine sticks around them. The sug- 
gestion was at once accepted, and Jones began to gather 
sticks. The men, unwilling for him to do all the work, 
laid down their guns and began to share in this labor. 
Jones saw his opportunity, and burning with mortifi- 
cation at his failure to carry through my message, he 
leaped to the pile of guns, drew his revolver, and said to 
the men : " I can kill every one of you before you can 
get to me. Fall into line. I will put a bullet through 
the first man who moves toward me ! " He delivered 
those six prisoners at my headquarters. 

I do not now recall the name of the Confederate who 
was selected, on account of his conspicuous courage, as 
the color-bearer of his regiment, and who vowed as he 


received the flag that he would never surrender it. At 
Gaines's Mill he fell in the forefront of the fight with a 
mortal wound through his body. Raising himself on his 
elbow, he quietly tore his battle-flag from the staff, folded 
it under him, and died upon it. 

At Big Falls, North Carolina, there lived in 1897 a 
one-armed soldier whose heroism will be cited by orators 
and poets as long as heroism is cherished by men. He 
was a color-bearer of his regiment, the Thirteenth North 
Carolina. In a charge during the first day's battle at 
Gettysburg, his right arm, with which he bore the colors, 
was shivered and almost torn from its socket. "Without 
halting or hesitating, he seized the falling flag in his left 
hand, and, with his blood spouting from the severed 
arteries and his right arm dangling in shreds at his side, 
he still rushed to the front, shouting to his comrades : 
" Forward, forward ! " The name of that modest and 
gallant soldier is W. F. Faucette. 

At Gettysburg a Union color-bearer of one of General 
Barlow's regiments, which were guarding the right flank 
of General Meade's army, exhibited a similar dauntless 
devotion in defence of his colors. As my command 
charged across the ravine and up its steep declivity, 
along which were posted the Union troops, the fight 
became on portions of the line a hand-to-hand struggle. 
This lion-hearted color-bearer of a Union regiment stood 
firmly in his place, refusing to fly, to yield his ground, 
or to surrender his flag. As the Confederates crowded 
around him and around the stalwart men who still stood 
firmly by him, he became engaged in personal combat 
with the color-bearer of one of my Georgia regiments. 
What his fate was I do not now recall, but I trust and 
believe that his life was spared. 

I sincerely pity the man who calls himself an American 
and who does not find in these exhibitions of American 
manhood on either side, a stimulant to his pride as an 


American citizen and a support to his confidence in the 
American Republic. The true patriot must necessarily 
feel a glow of sincere pride in the record of the Repub- 
lic's great and heroic sons from every section. There is 
no inconsistency, however, between a special affection 
for one's birthplace and a general love for one's entire 
country. There is nothing truer than that the love of 
the home is the unit, and that the sum of these units is 
aggregated patriotism. What would be thought of the 
patriotism of a son of New England or of the Old 
Dominion whose heart did not warm at the mention of 
Plymouth Rock or of Jamestown I 

An incident in the war experience of General Newton 
M. Curtis, a leading and influential Republican member 
of Congress from New York, is worthy of record. A 
finer specimen of physical manhood it would be difficult 
to find. Six feet six inches in height, erect as the typical 
Indian, he weighs two hundred and thirty-two pounds ; 
but if he were six feet twelve and weighed twice as much 
his body would not be big enough to contain the great 
soul which inhabits it. He had one eye shot out by a 
Confederate bullet, but if he had lost both his lofty spirit 
would have seen as clearly as now that the war was 
fought in defence of inherited belief, and that when it 
ended the Union was more closely cemented than ever. 

Near Fairfax Court-House, during the war in that por- 
tion of Virginia which had been devastated by both 
armies, biting want necessarily came to many families 
near the border, particularly to those whose circum- 
stances made it impossible for them to remove to a dis- 
tant part of the State. From within the Union lines 
there came into the Union camps, one chilly day, a Vir- 
ginia lady. She was weak and pale and thinly clad, and 
rode an inferior horse, with a faithful old negro as her 
only escort. She had come to solicit from the commis- 
sary department of the Union army supplies with which 


to feed her household. The orders to the commissary 
department in the field were necessarily stringent. The 
supplies did not belong to the officer in charge, but were 
the property of the government. That officer, therefore, 
had no right to donate anything even to the most de- 
serving case of charity, except according to the orders ; 
and the orders required all applicants for supplies to take 
the oath of allegiance to the United States before such 
supplies could be furnished. This hungry and wan 
woman was informed that she could have the necessaries 
for which she asked upon subscribing to that oath. 
What was she to do? Her kindred, her husband and 
son, were soldiers in the Confederate army. If she re- 
fused to take the oath, what would become of her and 
those dependent upon her ! If she took the oath, what 
was to become of her own convictions and her loyalty to 
the cause of those she loved I It is not necessary to say 
that her sense of duty and her fidelity to the Southern 
cause triumphed. Sad and hungry, she turned away, 
resolved to suffer on. But General Curtis was in that 
camp. He had no power to change the orders, and no 
disposition to change them, and he would have scorned 
to violate a trust ; for there was no braver or more loyal 
officer in the Union army. He had, however, in his pri- 
vate purse some of the money which he had earned as a 
soldier, and he illustrated in his character that native 
knighthood which ennobles its possessor while protect- 
ing, befriending, and blessing the weak or unfortunate. 
It is enough to add that this brave and suffering Vir- 
ginia woman did not leave the Union camp empty- 
handed. I venture the opinion that General Curtis 
would not exchange the pleasure which that act gave 
him at the time, and has given him for the thirty years 
since, for the amount of money expended multiplied 
many times over. 

In 1863, when General Longstreet's forces were invest- 


ing the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, there occurred an 
incident equally honorable to the sentiment and spirit of 
Confederate and Federal. During a recent visit to that 
city, a party representing both sides in that engagement 
accompanied me to the great fort which General Long- 
street's forces assailed but were unable to capture. These 
representatives of both armies united in giving me the 
details of the incident. The Southern troops had made 
a bold assault upon the fort. They succeeded in reach- 
ing it through a galling fire, and attempted to rush up its 
sides, but were beaten back by the Union men, who held 
it. Then in the deep ditch surrounding the fortress and 
at its immediate base, the Confederates took their po- 
sition. They were, in a measure, protected from the 
Union fire ; but they could neither climb into the fort 
nor retreat, except at great sacrifice of life. The sun 
poured its withering rays upon them and they were 
famishing with thirst. A bold and self-sacrificing young 
soldier offered to take his life in his hands and canteens 
on his back and attempt to bring water to his fainting 
comrades. He made the dash for life and for water, and 
was unhurt ; but the return — how was that to be accom- 
plished ? Laden with the filled and heavy canteens, he 
approached within range of the rifles in the fort and 
looked anxiously across the intervening space. He was 
fully alive to the fact that the chances were all against 
him ; but, determined to relieve his suffering comrades 
or die in the effort, he started on his perilous run for the 
ditch at the fort. The brave Union soldiers stood upon 
the parapet with their rifles in hand. As they saw this 
daring American youth coming, with his life easily at 
their disposal, they stood silently contemplating him for 
a moment. Then, realizing the situation, they fired at 
him a tremendous volley— not of deadly bullets from 
their guns, but of enthusiastic shouts from their throats. 
If the annals of war record any incident between hos- 


tile armies which embodies a more beautiful aud touch- 
ing tribute by the brave to the brave, I have never seen 

And now what is to be said of these incidents ? How 
much are the few recorded in this chapter worth ! To 
the generations that are to follow, what is their value 
and the value of the tens of thousands which ought to be 
chronicled 1 Do they truly indicate that the war did lift 
the spirit of the people to better things I Was it really 
fought in defense of cherished convictions, and did it 
bury in its progress the causes of sectional dissensions I 
Did it develop a higher manhood in the men, and did 
it reveal in glorious light the latent but ever-living hero- 
ism of our women? The heroines of Sparta who gave 
their hair for bow-strings have been immortalized by 
the muse of history ; but what tongue can speak or pen 
indite a tribute worthy of that Mississippi woman who 
with her own hands applied the torch to more than half 
a million dollars' worth of cotton, reducing herself to 
poverty, rather than have that cotton utilized against 
her people I The day will come, and I hope and believe 
it is rapidly approaching, when in all the sections will 
be seen evidences of appreciation of these inspiring inci- 
dents ; when all lips will unite in expressing gratitude to 
GTod that they belong to such a race of men and women ; 
when no man who loves his country will be found grov- 
elling among the embers and ignoble passions of the 
past, but will aid in developing a still nobler national 
life, by inviting the youth of our country to a contem- 
plation of the true glories of this memorable war. 

In my boyhood I witnessed a scene in nature which 
it now seems to me fitly symbolizes that mighty struggle 
and the view of it which I seek to present. Standing on 
a mountain-top, I saw two storm-clouds lowering in the 
opposite horizon. They were heavily charged with elec- 
tric fires. As they rose and approached each other they 


extended their length and gathered additional blackness 
and fury. Higher and higher they rose, their puffing 
wind-caps rolling like hostile banners above them ; and 
when nearing each other the flashing lightning blazed 
along their front and their red bolts were hurled into 
each other's bosoms. Finally in mid-heavens they met, 
and the blinding flashes and fearful shocks filled my boy- 
ish spirit with awe and terror. But God's hand was in 
that storm, and from the furious conflict copious show- 
ers were poured upon the parched and thirsty earth, 
which refreshed and enriched it. 



Confederate victories up to the winter of 1863— Southern confidence in 
ultimate independence— Progress of Union armies in the West— Fight 
for the control of the Mississippi— General Butler in possession of 
New Orleans — The new era in naval construction— Significance of the 
battle of the Monitor and Merrimac— Great leaders who had come into 
prominence in both armies— The death of Albert Sidney Johnston- 
General Lee the most unassuming of great commanders. 

THE next promontories on the war's highway which 
come into view are Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and 
Chickamauga; and these suggest a retrospective view 
of the entire field over which the armies had been march- 
ing, and of the men who had been leading them. 

The battles of 1861-62 and of the winter of 1863 had 
left the South still confident of success in securing her 
independence and the North still fully resolved on 
maintaining the integrity of the Union. In Virginia the 
Confederates had won important victories at Bull Eun, 
in the seven days' battles around Eichmond, at Harper's 
Ferry, with the surrender of the Union forces to Jackson, 
at second Manassas, at Fredericksburg, in the Valley, 
and at Chancellorsville, and had claimed a drawn battle 
at Sharpsburg— Antietam. Kirby Smith had marched 
nearly across Kentucky, threatening Cincinnati, and suc- 
cess of more or less importance had attended Southern 
arms in other localities. 

In the West the Union arms had won at Fort Donel- 
son, Fort Henry, and in the battle for the possession of 



eastern Kentucky, where the Confederate commander 
Zollicoffer was killed, and the Union commander, George 
H. Thomas, won his first great victory. The Confed- 
erates had suffered severely at Pea Eidge in Arkansas, 
although no material advantage was gained on either 
side. McCulloch, the noted Texas ranger, fell, and the 
picturesque Albert Pike, with his two thousand Indians, 
lent additional interest to the scene. On both sides of 
the Mississippi the Union forces were advancing. Ken- 
tucky and all northern Tennessee and Missouri and 
northern Arkansas had been abandoned to Union occu- 
pation. The possession of the Mississippi Eiver from 
its source to its mouth, and the cutting in twain of the 
Confederate territory, became for the Southwest the 
dominating policy of the Union authorities— the logical 
sequence of which would be to cut off Confederate food- 
supplies from Texas and the trans-Mississippi. The 
success of this policy was becoming assured by rapidly 
recurring and decisive blows. Island Number Ten, above 
Memphis, fell, forcing the evacuation of Fort Pillow and 
of Memphis, thus breaking Confederate control of this 
great waterway at every point north of Vicksburg. 
Farragut, the brilliant admiral, had battered his way 
through Confederate gunboats and forts from the Mis- 
sissippi's mouth to New Orleans. This foremost genius 
of the Union navy, whose father was a friend of Andrew 
Jackson's, and whose mother was a North Carolina wo- 
man, had learned his first lesson in heroism from this 
Southern mother as she stood with uplifted axe in the 
door of their cabin home, defending her children from 
the red savages of the mountains. 

General Benjamin F. Butler, who had advocated the 
nomination of Jefferson Davis for President in the 
Charleston Convention (1860), had marched his troops 
into New Orleans and taken possession of the city. 
Along the Atlantic coast, point after point held by Con- 


federates was falling before the mighty naval armament 
of the United States. No Confederate navy existed to 
dispute its progress.* General Burnside, in his expedition 
to North Carolina, had captured Fort Macon and New- 
bern. The cities of Fernandina and Jacksonville, Florida, 
were unable to stand against the fire from the fleet of 
Commodore Dupont. In Hampton Roads, Virginia, had 
occurred the first battle of perfected ironclads in the 
world's history, and one of the most furious in the annals 
of naval engagements. The Confederate Virginia and 
the United States Monitor in a few days had revolution- 
ized the theories of scientific seamen, and made the iron- 
clad the future monarch of the water. The United States 
frigate Merrimac, which had been scuttled and sunk by its 
former crew, was raised from its deep grave by the Con- 
federates and remodelled under the direction of Captain 
J. M. Brooke, of Virginia. It was covered with a sloping 
roof of railroad iron, plastered over with plumbago and 
tallow, and rechristened Virginia. From this roof of 
greased iron the heaviest solid shot of the most power- 
ful guns glanced like india-rubber balls from a mound of 
granite and whizzed harmlessly into the air. With its 
steel-pointed prow the Virginia crashed into the side of 
the United States war-ship Cumberland, tearing a huge 
hole through which the rushing waters poured into her 
hull, carrying her to the bottom with the gallant Fed- 
erals who had manned her. Under the belching fires of 
this floating volcano, with its crater near the water's 
surface and its base-line three feet below it, the United 
States frigate Congress was forced to surrender. The 
most thrilling scene, however, in this great struggle of 
naval monsters, was that witnessed when the Union 
ironclad Monitor, designed by Captain John Ericsson, 
engaged the ironclad Virginia at close quarters. The 
pointed beak of the Virginia could make no impression 
upon the armor of the Monitor. The heaviest shots 


of each bounded off from the sides of the other, doing 
no practical damage even when at closest range. These 
two heralds of the new era in naval construction and 
naval battles were buried at last in that element the 
warfare upon which they had completely revolutionized 
— the Virginia in the James River, the Monitor in the 
Atlantic off Hatteras. 

The great military leaders on the two sides were just 
beginning to attract the attention of their countrymen 
and to fix the gaze of Christendom. G-eorge H. Thomas, 
who was regarded by Confederate officers as one of the 
ablest of the Union commanders, was steadily building 
that solid reputation the general recognition of which 
found at last popular expression in the sobriquet, " Rock 
of Chickamauga "— a title resembling that conferred 
upon Jackson at Bull Run, and for a similar service. 
Sheridan, who afterward became the most famous cav- 
alryman of the North, was beginning to win the confi- 
dence of his commanders and of his Northern countrymen. 
McDowell, who was the classmate and friend at West 
Point of his opponent Beauregard, and whose ability as 
a soldier was recognized by Confederate leaders, had 
been defeated at Bull Run, the first great battle of the 
war, and had been supplanted by McClellan. It was my 
privilege to confer with General McClellan during the ex- 
citing and momentous period preceding the inauguration 
of President Hayes, and he impressed me then, as he had 
impressed his people in 1862, as a man of great personal 
magnetism and vivacious intellect. After the seven 
days' battles around Richmond, McClellan was replaced 
by General John Pope. That officer, who had inglori- 
ously failed to make good his prophecy that his army 
would henceforth look only upon the backs of the enemy, 
and who, contrary to his prediction, found that even he 
must consider "lines of retreat" at second Manassas, 
had been sent to another field of service when General 


McClellan was reinstated in command. President Lin- 
coln, however, is said to have soon desired greater 
activity, and to have wittily suggested that if General 
McClellan had no special use for the army he would like 
to borrow it. Whether this characteristic suggestion 
was ever made by the President or not, it is certain that 
the army was later intrusted to General Burnside, with 
whom I served afterward in the Senate, and who was 
respected by all in that chamber for his stainless record 
as legislator and exalted character as man and patriot. 
General Burnside, after his defeat by Lee at Fredericks- 
burg, had at his own request been relieved of the com- 
mand of the army. General Hooker, his successor, who 
as long as the war lasted fought with heroism and de- 
votion, and after it ended entertained his Southern 
friends with the lavish hand of a prince, had lost the 
great battle of Chancellors ville. Although this admira- 
ble officer, by his devotion to his duties as commander, 
had so enhanced the efficiency of his army in numbers 
and discipline that he felt justified in pronouncing it 
" the finest army on the planet," he also had asked to be 
relieved of chief command because of some conflict of 
authority. His successor was General George Gordon 
Meade, of whom I shall have more to say in another 

The reputations of Sherman and of Grant were now 
eclipsing those of other commanders. General Sherman, 
with Memphis as his base, was threatening to overrun 
the Confederate States on the east bank of the Missis- 
sippi, while Stephen D. Lee, a brilliant campaigner, pro- 
nounced by competent authority one of the most effective 
commanders on the Confederate side, was throwing his 
little army across General Sherman's lines of advance 
and retarding his progress. Sherman, however, was 
advancing and laying the foundations upon which he 
was to build the imposing structure of his future fame. 


Grant was piling victory upon victory and steadily 
mounting to the heights to which destiny and his coun- 
try were calling him. 

On the Confederate side, a great light had gone out 
when Albert Sidney Johnston fell. In comparative 
youth he had rendered signal service to Texas in her 
struggle for independence. In the war with Mexico he 
had evoked from " Old Rough and Ready " — Zachary 
Taylor — the commanding general, praises that were 
neither few nor meagre. In Utah he had been the 
government's faithful friend and strong right arm. A 
Kentuckian by birth, he had in his veins some of the 
best of American blood. Like Washington and Lee, he 
combined those singularly attractive qualities which 
inspired and held the love and confidence of his soldiers, 
while commanding the respect and admiration of the 
sages of West Point. In him more than in any other 
man at that period were centred the hopes of the 
Southern people. He fell in the morning of his career, 
leading his steady lines through the woods at Shiloh, 
and in the very hour of apparently assured victory. As 
the rich life-current ebbed through the severed artery, 
he closed his eyes on this scene of his last conflict, con- 
fident of his army's triumph and with the exultant shouts 
of his advancing legions sounding a requiem in his ears. 

The immediate successor of Albert Sidney Johnston was 
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who was an officer 
of ability and sincerely patriotic. Had circumstances 
favored it, he would have found the broadest field for 
usefulness at some point where his great skill as an en- 
gineer could have been utilized. During the initiative 
period of the war, prior to the first great battle of Bull 
Run, it was my privilege to serve under General Beau- 
regard and to learn something of those cheery, debonair 
characteristics which helped to make him the idol of the 
vivacious Creoles of Louisiana. After the war a Virgin- 


ian, an ardent admirer of General Lee, was extolling the 
great commander-in-chief in a conversation with one of 
Beauregard's devoted Creole adherents. The Louisian- 
ian listened for a moment to the Virginian's praise of 
Lee, and then replied : 

" Lee — Lee ! Yes, seems to me I did hear Beauregard 
speak very well of Lee." 

Louisiana furnished another successor to the lamented 
Albert Sidney Johnston in the person of General Brax- 
ton Bragg. This officer, who was one of President 
Davis's special favorites, becoming late in the war a 
military adviser of the Confederate President, was a 
noted artillerist, and would possibly have done greater 
execution in directing the movements of field batteries, 
which was a specialty, than in directing the movements 
of an army or handling it in battle. General Bragg was 
undoubtedly a man of ability, but his health was bad, 
and unfortunately his temper was no better. His refer- 
ence, though in semi-private conversation, to one of his 
most prominent officers as "an old woman," and his 
declaration that he had few men under him capable of 
command, were in strange contrast to the confidence 
felt by the country in those officers, and were especially 
in contrast with the spirit of Lee in assuming for himself 
the responsibility for defeat, while giving the honors of 
success to his juniors. "When General Bragg was indulg- 
ing in these criticisms of his officers he had under him 
those brilliant soldiers, the accomplished, alert, and dash- 
ing E. C. Walthall, late United States senator from 
Mississippi; Patrick Cleburne, whose warm Irish blood 
and quick Irish intellect made him conspicuous in every 
fight, and who in the desperate charge at Franklin, 
Tennessee, was killed on the defences behind which the 
Union army had been posted; and W. H. T. Walker, 
who as a boy had won his spurs fighting Indians at Okee- 
chobee, and who was afterward desperately wounded in 


Mexico, recovering, as he said, "to spite the doctors." 
He lost his life at last in battle at Atlanta, and left a 
reputation for courage equal to that of Ney. There 
was also in Bragg's army at that time the accomplished 
and brave Bate, of Tennessee, who was repeatedly 
wounded, and finally maimed for life, and whose old 
war-horse, shot at the same time, followed his wounded 
owner to the hospital tent and died at its door, moaning 
his farewell to that gallant master. There were also 
Cheatham and Polk (of whom I have spoken in a former 
chapter), and a galaxy of able men of whom I would 
gladly write. There were also with Bragg the knightly 
cavalryman Joseph Wheeler, and N. B. Forrest, the 
"wizard of the saddle," who was one of the unique 
figures of the war, and who, in my estimation, exhibited 
more native untutored genius as a cavalry leader than 
any man of modern times. Like the great German 
emperor who thought the rules of grammar were not 
made for his Majesty, Forrest did not care whether his 
orders were written according to Murray or any other 
grammarian, so they meant to his troops " fight on, mem 
and keep fighting till I come." 

Lieutenant-General Hardee was also one of Bragg's 
corps commanders. This officer, who was an accom- 
plished tactician, had made a record which many thought 
indicated abilities of a high order, fitting him for chief 
command of the Western Army. Another of his corps 
commanders was the chivalrous John B. Hood, who, at 
Atlanta, in 1864, was named by President Davis to suc- 
ceed General Joseph E. Johnston, who was removed 
from chief command. In commenting on the picturesque 
and high-spirited Hood a whole chapter might be con- 
sumed ; but 1 shall confine myself to a few observations 
in regard to him. As division or corps commander, 
there were very few men in either army who were su- 
perior to Hood; but his most intimate associates and 


ardent admirers in the army never regarded him as en- 
dowed with those rare mental gifts essential in the man 
who was to displace General Joseph E. Johnston. To 
say that he was as brave and dashing as any officer of 
any age would be the merest commonplace tribute to 
such a man ; but courage and dash are not the sole or 
even the prime requisites of the commander of a great 
army. There are crises, it is true, in battle, like that 
which called Napoleon to the front at Lodi, and caused 
Lee to attempt to lead his men on May 6 in the Wil- 
derness, and again at Spottsylvania (May 12, 1864), when 
the fate of the army may demand the most daring ex- 
posure of the commander-in-chief himself. It is never- 
theless true that care and caution in handling an army, 
the forethought which thoroughly weighs the advan- 
tages and disadvantages of instant and aggressive action, 
are as essential in a commander as courage in his men. 
In these high qualities his battles at Atlanta and later at 
Franklin would indicate that Hood was lacking. I am 
persuaded and have reason to believe that General Lee 
thought Joseph E. Johnston's tactics wiser, although 
they involved repeated retreats in husbanding the 
strength and morale of his army. Bosquet said of some 
brilliant episode in battle : " It is magnificent, but it is not 
war." Hood, like Jackson, thought battle a delightful ex- 
citement ; but Jackson, with all his daring and apparent 
relish for the fray, was one of the most cautious of men. 
His terrible marches were inspired largely by his caution. 
Instead of hurling his troops on breastworks in front, 
which might have been "beautiful," he preferred to wage 
war by heavy marching in order to deliver his blow upon 
the flank. His declaration that it is better to lose one 
hundred men in marching than a thousand in fighting is 
proof positive of the correctness of the estimate I place 
on his caution. Ewell once said that he never saw one 
of Jackson's staff approaching without "expecting an 


order to storm the north pole " ; but if Jackson had de- 
termined to take the north pole he would have first 
considered whether it could be more easily carried by 
assaulting in front or by turning its flank. 

Hood had lost a leg in battle, and when the amputa- 
tion was completed an attempt was made to console him 
by the announcement that a civil appointment was ready 
for him. With characteristic impetuosity, he replied: 
" No, sir ; no bomb-proof place for me. I propose to see 
this fight out in the field." This undiminished ardor for 
military service calls to mind the many other soldiers 
of the Civil War, and of all history, whose loss of bodily 
activity in no way impaired their mental capacity. 
Ewell, with his one leg, not only rode in battle like a 
cow-boy on the plains, but in the whirlwind of the strife 
his brain acted with the precision and rapidity of a 
Gatling gun. 

General Daniel E. Sickles, of New York, who was 
an able representative in Congress, continued his ac- 
tive and conspicuous service in the field long after 
he lost the leg which was shivered by a Confederate 
ball as the brave men in gray rushed up the steep 
of Little Round Top at Gettysburg. The United States 
Senate, since the war, has been a conspicuous arena 
for one-legged Confederates. The former illustrious 
senators of South Carolina, Hampton and Butler, 
and the combative and forceful Berry of Arkansas, 
each stood upon his single leg, an able and aggressive 
champion of Democratic faith ; and it is certain that the 
brilliant oratory of Daniel, of Virginia, is none the less 
Websterian because the missile in the Wilderness 
mangled his leg and maimed him for life. Marshal 
Saxe, who ran away from home and joined the army 
at the age of twelve, and who became one of the most 
famous soldiers of his day, gathered for France and 
his own brow the glories of Fontenoy while he was 


carried amidst his troops on a litter. The most illus- 
trious patrician in .the Republic of Venice, the sight- 
less hero whom Lord Byron called "the blind old Dan- 
dolo," achieved for his country its most brilliant naval 
victories. No account, however, of the mental vigor 
which has distinguished many maimed soldiers would 
be complete without reference to a Union soldier who 
lost both legs. My first meeting with " Corporal" Tanner, 
to whom I allude, was many years ago, on the cars be- 
tween Washington and Richmond. He was on his way 
to the former capital of the fallen Confederacy. The ex- 
uberance of his spirits, the cordiality of his greeting, 
and the catholicity of his sentiments arrested my atten- 
tion and won my friendship at this first meeting. In 
the course of the conversation I jocularly asked him if 
he were not afraid to go to Richmond without a body- 
guard ! " Well," he said, " I left both my legs buried in 
Virginia soil, and I think a man ought to be allowed 
peaceably to visit his own graveyard." A few years 
later I sat on a platform with Tanner before a great 
audience in Cooper Institute, New York. This audience 
had assembled for the purpose of considering ways and 
means to aid in the erection of a Confederate Soldiers' 
Home in Richmond. I had in my pocket a liberal con- 
tribution from General Grant, and after announcing this 
fact, with a few additional words, I called for Tanner as 
the speaker of the evening. He stood tremblingly on 
the two wooden pins that served him as legs, and began 
by saying: "My whole being is enlisted in this cause, 
from the crown of my head down to the— as far as I go." 
Those who were present at the great gathering of Con- 
federates in the vast assembly-hall at Richmond during 
the last days of June, 1895, will not soon forget his 
speech on that occasion. This maimed Union veteran, 
surrounded by Confederates, was pressed to the front of 
the platform amidst the wildest acclamations of his 


former foes. Every fibre of his body quivering with 
emotion, Tanner poured into the ears and hearts of his 
auditors a torrent of patriotic eloquence that evoked a 
demonstration such as rarely greets any man. In his 
case the loss of his legs seems to have added vigor to 
his brain and breadth to his heart. 

The brief comments I have made upon General Hood's 
career as commander of an army are in no degree dis- 
paraging to his clear title to the gratitude of the South- 
ern people. They are penned by as loyal a friend as he 
had in the Confederate army. No devoted Theban ever 
stood at the tomb of Epaminondas with keener appreci- 
ation of his great virtues than is mine of the high qual- 
ities of the great-hearted and heroic Hood. These views 
were not withheld from General Lee when the selection 
of a new commander for the Confederate army at 
Atlanta was in contemplation. When President Davis 
asked General Lee for an opinion as to the wisdom of 
removing General Johnston from the command of that 
army, General Lee did me the honor, as I presume he 
honored other corps commanders, to counsel with me as 
to the policy of such an act. I had served under Gen- 
eral Johnston while he commanded the Army of Northern 
Virginia. I had learned by experience and observation 
how he could retreat day after day and yet retain the 
absolute confidence of his officers and men, who were 
ready at any moment to about face, and, with an enthu- 
siasm born of that confidence, assume the offensive at 
his command. I therefore expressed the opinion that 
there was no one except General Lee himself who could 
take General Johnston's place without a shock to the 
morale of his troops that would greatly decrease the 
chances of checking General Sherman. Hood and others 
were discussed, and I ventured the suggestion that if the 
time should ever come for the removal of General John- 
ston, it would be after he had lost and not while he still 


retained, as he clearly did, the enthusiastic confidence of 
his army, from the commanders of corps to the privates 
in the ranks. I may here remark that General Lee was 
perhaps the most unassuming of great commanders. 
Responsibilities that clearly belonged to him as a soldier 
he met promptly and to the fullest extent; but he was 
the last man holding a commission in the Confederate 
army to assume authority about which there could be 
any question. Especially was this true when such au- 
thority was placed by the Constitution or laws in the 
hands of the President. Nothing could tempt him to 
cross the line separating his powers from those of the 
civil authorities. That line might be dim to others, but 
it was clear to him. This delicacy was exhibited again 
and again even during the desperate throes in the last 
death-struggle of his army. I cannot be mistaken, how- 
ever, as to his opinion of the suggested removal of Gen- 
eral Johnston and the promotion of General Hood or 
any one else to the chief command. While he avoided 
any direct reply to my suggestions, he said enough to 
indicate his opinions. I could not forget his expressions, 
and I give, I believe, the exact words he used. He said : 
" General Johnston is a patriot and an able soldier. He 
is upon the ground, and knows his army and its sur- 
roundings and how to use it better than any of us." 
This was the extent of his comment and ended the inter- 
view. He never again alluded to the subject. General 
Lee was influenced in this case, as always, by a possibly 
too extreme reluctance to assume powers vested in the 
head of the government. While there was more or less 
complaint and criticism of Mr. Davis's management (it 
could not be otherwise during the progress of so stu- 
pendous an enterprise), the confidence reposed in his 
ability and consecration was unshaken; and General 
Lee heartily shared in this confidence. The threadbare 
adage, " Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," found 


a fit illustration of its truth in the experience of Jeffer- 
son Davis, as it did in that of George Washington and 
of Abraham Lincoln. In the case of Washington criti- 
cism ceased when he retired to Mount Vernon. In the 
case of Abraham Lincoln all carpings and all divisions 
were lost in the universal sorrow of the whole American 
people when he became the victim of the murderous 
bullet of an insane assassin. So Jefferson Davis when 
imprisoned became the representative martyr of his 
whole people. Every one of them was ready to share 
with him all responsibility for the struggle, to the chief 
conduct of which they had called him by their votes. I 
feel sure that so long as this vicarious suffering of Mr. 
Davis lasted, General Johnston himself would have been 
unwilling to publish any statements as to the controversy 
between them, though he might have deemed such state- 
ments necessary for his own vindication. 

The strained relations between them originated in an 
honest difference of opinion as to the relative rank to 
which General Johnston was entitled among the five full 
generals. It is wholly immaterial to my present purpose 
to inquire which was right. The position of either could 
be sustained by forceful arguments. From my knowl- 
edge of both President Davis and General Johnston, I 
feel justified in saying that the spirit which prompted 
them differed essentially from that which impelled the 
Duke of Wellington and Talleyrand each to desire the 
first place in the picture in which the allied sovereigns 
were to appear. Personal ambition played a very small 
part in the conduct of the serious enterprise in which 
the South was embarked. I could not fail to be deeply 
concerned, as all Southerners were, as to the effect of 
this alienation between the President and one of the 
South's ablest commanders. Honored with the close 
personal friendship of both after the war, I had abundant 
opportunity for learning the peculiarities of each. That 


trenchant truism of Plato : " No man governs well who 
wants to govern," finds no illustration in the lives of 
these patriotic men. The high positions and responsi- 
bilities of both came to them unsought. Their charac- 
teristics were cast in similar moulds and were of the most 
inflexible metal. While courteous in intercourse, each 
was tenacious in holding and emphatic in expressing 
convictions. The breach, therefore, once made was never 
healed. President Davis wished General Johnston to 
assume the offensive, with Dalton as a base of operations. 
General Johnston felt that his army, which had been 
beaten back from Missionary Eidge in great confusion, 
could not safely inaugurate the movement. The Presi- 
dent felt that it was his right as constitutional head of 
the Confederate Government to know when and where 
his general intended to make a stand. That general, who 
had made a retreat from Dalton to Atlanta in which he 
had lost no wagons, no material of any description ex- 
cept four pieces of artillery, and none of the enthusiastic 
confidence of his officers or men, with but few killed or 
wounded in the almost daily skirmishes and combats, 
failed to give to the government at Richmond such in- 
formation of his plans and such assurances of his hopes 
of success as were expected. A man of great caution, 
but of towering capabilities, General Johnston had hus- 
banded his army's strength and resources in this long 
retrograde movement so as to make it one of the most 
memorable in military annals; but I think he should 
have frankly and confidently stated where he intended 
to make a final stand, from which he expected most sat- 
isfactory results. Failing to do this, he will probably 
be judged by history as failing to meet in the fullest 
measure his duty to the President. On the other hand, 
President Davis, having placed in command this officer, 
who had few if any superiors in any age or in any army, 
should probably have imitated the example of Louis 


XV, who said to the great marshal in command of his 
forces that he expected all to obey, " and I will be the 
first to set the example." 

In the meantime, while these repeated changes in com- 
manders were occurring in the Confederate Army of the 
West and in the Union Army of the East, Eobert E. Lee 
was intrusted with supreme military control in Virginia. 
Once in command, he was destined to remain to the end. 
Supported by Jackson, by the two Hills and Hampton, by 
Longstreet and Stuart and the junior Lees, by Ewell and 
Early, by Breckenridge, Heth, Mahone, Hoke, Eodes, 
and Pickett ; by Field and Wilcox, by Johnson, Cobb, 
Evans, Kershaw, and Eamseur; by Pendleton, Alex- 
ander, Jones, Long and Carter of the artillery, and by 
a long line of officers who have left their impress upon 
history, this great chieftain was concentrating largely 
in himself the hopes of the Southern people. 

This cursory and necessarily imperfect review of some 
of the noted leaders on both sides would be still less 
satisfactory without some reference to the men of the 
ranks who stood behind them — or, rather, in front of 

During the fall of 1896, on my tour in Ohio, a gallant 
officer of the Union army, after hearing some reference 
by me to the great debt of gratitude due the private sol- 
diers, gave me an amusing account of a meeting held by 
privates and junior officers of the line in the Union 
camps. Brevet titles were being conferred upon many 
officers for meritorious conduct. A series of resolutions 
were passed at this meeting, with the usual tvhereases, by 
which it was declared, as the sense of the meeting, that 
every private who had bravely fought and uncomplain- 
ingly suffered was entitled to be bre vetted as corporal, 
every corporal as sergeant, and every sergeant as cap- 
tain. In that droll gathering some wag proposed an 
additional resolution, which, with solemn dignity, was 


unanimously adopted : " Whereas, the faithful mules of 
the army have worked hard without any complaint, each 
one of said mules should be promoted to the rank of 

General Lee evidenced his appreciation of the privates 
when he said to one of them who was standing near his 
tent, " Come in, captain, and take a seat." 

" I 'm no captain, general ; I 'm nothing but a pri- 
vate," said this modest soldier. 

" Come in, sir," said Lee ; " come in and take a seat. 
You ought to be a captain." 

Although playfully uttered, these simple words re- 
flected the real sentiment of the great chieftain. It is 
almost literally true that the intelligent privates in both 
the Confederate and Union armies were all competent 
to hold minor commissions after one year's service. 
They acquired well-defined opinions as to the wisdom 
and object of great movements. 

No language would be too strong or eulogy too high 
to pronounce upon the privates who did their duty dur- 
ing that long and dreadful war, who manfully braved 
its dangers, patiently endured its trials, cheerfully 
obeyed the orders; who were ready to march and to 
suffer, to fight and to die, without once calling in ques- 
tion the wisdom of the orders or the necessity for the 



Why General Lee crossed the Potomac— The movement into Penn- 
sylvania — Incidents of the march to the Susquehanna — The first 
day at Gettysburg— Union forces driven back— The key of the posi- 
tion—Why the Confederates did not seize Cemetery Ridge — A defence 
of General Lee's strategy— The fight at Little Round Top— The im- 
mortal chai'ge of Pickett's men — General Meade's deliberate pursuit — 
Lee's request to be relieved. 

FROM Gettysburg to Appomattox; from the zenith 
of assurance to the nadir of despair ; from the com- 
pact ranks, boundless confidence, and exultant hopes of 
as proud and puissant an army as was ever marshalled — 
to the shattered remnants, withered hopes, and final sur- 
render of that army — such is the track to be followed 
describing the Confederacy's declining fortunes and ul- 
timate death. No picture can be drawn by human hand 
vivid enough to portray the varying hues, the spasmodic 
changes, the rapidly gathering shadows of the scenes 
embraced in the culminating period of the great struggle. 

A brief analysis of the reasons for General Lee's cross- 
ing of the Potomac is now in order. In the logistics of 
defensive war, offensive movements are often the wisest 
strategy. Voltaire has somewhere remarked that "to 
subsist one's army at the expense of the enemy, to ad- 
vance on their own ground and force them to retrace 
their steps— thus rendering strength useless by skill — is 
regarded as one of the masterpieces of military art." 

It would be difficult to group together words more 



concisely and clearly descriptive of General Lee's pur- 
poses in crossing the Potomac, both in '62 and '63. It 
must be added, however, that while the movement into 
Maryland in 1862, and into Pennsylvania in 1863, were 
each defensive in design, they differed in some particu- 
lars as to the immediate object which General Lee hoped 
to accomplish. Each sought to force the Union army to 
retrace its steps ; " each sought to render strength useless 
by skill " ; but in 1862 there was not so grave a necessity 
for subsisting his army on Union soil as in 1863. The 
movement into Maryland was of course a more direct 
threat upon Washington. Besides, at that period there 
was still a prevalent belief among Southern leaders that 
Southern sentiment was strong in Maryland, and that an 
important victory within her borders might convert the 
Confederate camps into recruiting-stations, and add 
materially to the strength of Lee's army. But the Con- 
federate graves which were dug in Maryland's soil vastly 
outnumbered the Confederate soldiers recruited from her 
citizens. It would be idle to speculate as to what might 
have been the effect of a decisive victory by Lee's forces 
at South Mountain, or Boonsboro, or Antietam (Sharps- 
burg). The poignancy of disappointment at the small 
number recruited for our army was intensified by the 
recognition of the splendid fighting qualities of Mary- 
land soldiers who had previously joined us. 

The movement into Pennsylvania in 1863 was also, in 
part at least, a recruiting expedition. We did not ex- 
pect, it is true, to gather soldiers for our ranks, but 
beeves for our commissary. For more than two years 
the effort to fill the ranks of the Southern armies had 
alarmingly reduced the ranks of Southern producers, 
with no appreciable diminution in the number of con- 
sumers. Indeed, the consumers had materially increased ; 
for while we were not then seeking to encourage North- 
ern immigration, we had a large number of visitors from 


that and other sections, who were exploring the country 
under such efficient guides as McClellan, Hooker, Grant, 
Sherman, Thomas, and others. We had, therefore, much 
need of borrowing supplies from our neighbors beyond 
the Potomac. The bill of fare of some commands was 
already very short and by no means appetizing. General 
Ewell, having exhausted the contents of his larder, 
thought to replenish it from the surrounding country by 
a personal raid, and returned after a long and dusty hunt 
with a venerable ox, which would not have made a mor- 
sel, on division, for one per cent, of his command. Ewell's 
ox had on him, however, that peculiar quality of flesh 
which is essential in feeding an army on short rations. 
It was durable— irreducible. 

The whole country in the Wilderness and around Chan- 
cellorsville, where both Hooker's and Lee's armies had 
done some foraging, and thence to the Potomac, was 
well-nigh exhausted. This was true, also, of a large por- 
tion of the Piedmont region and of the Valley of Virginia 
beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains ; while the lower val- 
ley, along the Shenandoah, had long been the beaten 
track and alternate camping-ground of both Confederate 
and Union armies. It had contributed to the support of 
both armies until it could contribute no more. How to 
subsist, therefore, was becoming a serious question. The 
hungry hosts of Israel did not look across Jordan to the 
vine-clad hills of Canaan with more longing eyes than 
did Lee's braves contemplate the yellow grain-fields of 
Pennsylvania beyond the Potomac. 

Again, to defend Richmond by threatening Washing- 
ton and Baltimore and Philadelphia was perhaps the 
most promising purpose of the Confederate invasion. 
Incidentally, it was hoped that a defeat of the Union 
army in territory so contiguous to these great cities 
would send gold to such a premium as to cause financial 
panic in the commercial centres, and induce the great 


business interests to demand that the war should cease. 
But the hoped-for victory, with its persuasive influence, 
did not materialize. ' Indeed, the presence of Lee's army 
in Pennsylvania seemed to arouse the North to still 
greater efforts, as the presence of the Union armies in 
the South had intensified, if possible, the decision of her 
people to resist to the last extremity. 

The appearance of my troops on the flank of General 
Meade's army during the battle of Gettysburg was not 
our first approach into that little city which was to be- 
come the turning-point in the Confederacy's fortunes. 
Having been detached from General Lee's army, my 
brigade had, some days prior to the great battle, passed 
through Gettysburg on our march to the Susquehanna. 
Upon those now historic hills I had met a small force of 
Union soldiers, and had there fought a diminutive battle 
when the armies of both Meade and Lee were many miles 
away. When, therefore, my command — which pene- 
trated farther, I believe, than any other Confederate 
infantry into the heart of Pennsylvania — was recalled 
from the banks of the Susquehanna to take part in the 
prolonged and stupendous struggle, I expressed to my 
staff the opinion that if the battle should be fought at 
Gettysburg, the army which held the heights would prob- 
ably be the victor. The insignificant encounter I had 
had on those hills impressed their commanding impor- 
tance upon me as nothing else could have done. 

The Valley of Pennsylvania, through which my com- 
mand marched from Gettysburg to Wrights ville on the 
Susquehanna, awakened the most conflicting emotions. 
It was delightful to look upon such a scene of universal 
thrift and plenty. Its broad grain-fields, clad in golden 
garb, were waving their welcome to the reapers and 
binders. Some fields were already dotted over with 
harvested shocks. The huge barns on the highest 
grounds meant to my sore-footed marchers a mount, a 


ride, and a rest on broad-backed horses. On every side, 
as far as onr alert vision could reach, all aspects and 
conditions conspired to make this fertile and carefully- 
tilled region a panorama both interesting and enchant- 
ing. It was a type of the fair and fertile Valley of Vir- 
ginia at its best, before it became the highway of armies 
and the ravages of war had left it wasted and bare. This 
melancholy contrast between these charming districts, 
so similar in other respects, brought to our Southern 
sensibilities a touch of sadness. In both these lovely 
valleys were the big red barns, representing in their 
silent dignity the independence of their owners. In 
both were the old-fashioned brick or stone mansions, 
differing in style of architecture and surroundings as 
Teutonic manners and tastes differ from those of the 
Cavalier. In both were the broad green meadows with 
luxuriant grasses and crystal springs. 

One of these springs impressed itself on my memory 
by its great beauty and the unique uses to which its 
owner had put it. He was a staid and laborious farmer 
of German descent. With an eye to utility, as well 
as to the health and convenience of his household, he 
had built his dining-room immediately over this foun- 
tain gushing from a cleft in an underlying rt>ck. My 
camp for the night was near by, and I accepted his invi- 
tation to breakfast with him. As I entered the quaint 
room, one half floored with smooth limestone, and the 
other half covered with limpid water bubbling clear and 
pure from the bosom of Mother Earth, my amazement at 
the singular design was perhaps less pronounced than 
the sensation of rest which it produced. For many days 
we had been marching on the dusty turnpikes, under a 
broiling sun, and it is easier to imagine than to describe 
the feeling of relief and repose which came over me as 
we sat in that cool room, with a hot breakfast served 
from one side, while from the other the frugal housewife 


dipped cold milk and cream from immense jars standing 
neck-deep in water. 

We entered the city of York on Sunday morning. A 
committee, composed of the mayor and prominent citi- 
zens, met my command on the main pike before we 
reached the corporate limits, their object being to make 
a peaceable surrender and ask for protection to life and 
property. They returned, I think, with a feeling of 
assured safety. The church bells were ringing, and the 
streets were filled with well-dressed people. The appear- 
ance of these church-going men, women, and children, in 
their Sunday attire, strangely contrasted with that of my 
marching soldiers. Begrimed as we were from head to 
foot with the impalpable gray powder which rose in 
dense columns from the macadamized pikes and settled 
in sheets on men, horses, and wagons, it is no wonder 
that many of York's inhabitants were terror-stricken as 
they looked upon us. We had been compelled on these 
forced marches to leave baggage-wagons behind us, and 
there was no possibility of a change of clothing, and no 
time for brushing uniforms or washing the disfiguring 
dust from faces, hair, or beard. All these were of the 
same hideous hue. The grotesque aspect of my troops 
was accentuated here and there, too, by barefooted men 
mounted double upon huge horses with shaggy manes 
and long fetlocks. Confederate pride, to say nothing of 
Southern gallantry, was subjected to the sorest trial by 
the consternation produced among the ladies of York. 
In my eagerness to relieve the citizens from all appre- 
hension, I lost sight of the fact that this turnpike powder 
was no respecter of persons, but that it enveloped all 
alike— officers as well as privates. Had I realized the 
wish of Burns, that some power would " the giftie gie 
us, to see oursels as ithers see us," I might have avoided 
the slight panic created by my effort to allay a larger 
one. Halting on the main street, where the sidewalks 


were densely packed, I rode a few rods in advance of my 
troops, in order to speak to the people from my horse. 
As I checked him and turned my full dust-begrimed 
face upon a bevy of young ladies very near me, a cry of 
alarm came from their midst ; but after a few words of 
assurance from me, quiet and apparent confidence were 
restored. I assured these ladies that the troops behind 
me, though ill-clad and travel-stained, were good men 
and brave; that beneath their rough exteriors were 
hearts as loyal to women as ever beat in the breasts of 
honorable men ; that their own experience and the ex- 
perience of their mothers, wives, and sisters at home 
had taught them how painful must be the sight of a 
hostile army in their town ; that under the orders of the 
Confederate commander-in-chief both private property 
and non-combatants were safe ; that the spirit of ven- 
geance and of rapine had no place in the bosoms of these 
dust-covered but knightly men ; and I closed by pledging 
to York the head of any soldier under my command who 
destroyed private property, disturbed the repose of a 
single home, or insulted a woman. 

As we moved along the street after this episode, a 
little girl, probably twelve years of age, ran up to my 
horse and handed me a large bouquet of flowers, in the 
centre of which was a note, in delicate handwriting, 
purporting to give the numbers and describe the posi- 
tion of the Union forces of Wrightsville, toward which 
I was advancing. I carefully read and reread this 
strange note. It bore no signature, and contained no 
assurance of sympathy for the Southern cause, but it 
was so terse and explicit in its terms as to compel 
my confidence. The second day we were in front of 
Wrightsville, and from the high ridge on which this 
note suggested that I halt and examine the position of 
the Union troops, I eagerly scanned the prospect with 
my field-glasses, in order to verify the truth of the mys- 


terious communication or detect its misrepresentations. 
There, in full view before us, was the town, just as 
described, nestling on the banks of the Susquehanna. 
There was the blue line of soldiers guarding the ap- 
proach, drawn up, as indicated, along an intervening 
ridge and across the pike. There was the long bridge 
spanning the Susquehanna and connecting the town 
with Columbia on the other bank. Most important of 
all, there was the deep gorge or ravine running off to 
the right and extending around the left flank of the 
Federal line and to the river below the bridge. Not an 
inaccurate detail in that note could be discovered. I 
did not hesitate, therefore, to adopt its suggestion of 
moving down the gorge in order to throw my command 
on the flank, or possibly in the rear, of the Union troops 
and force them to a rapid retreat or surrender. The re- 
sult of this movement vindicated the strategic wisdom 
of my unknown and — judging by the handwriting- 
woman correspondent, whose note was none the less 
martial because embedded in roses, and whose evident 
genius for war, had occasion offered, might have made 
her a captain equal to Catherine. 

As I have intimated, the orders from General Lee for 
the protection of private property and persons were of 
the most stringent character. Guided by these instruc- 
tions and by my own impulses, I resolved to leave no 
ruins along the line of my march through Pennsylvania ; 
no marks of a more enduring character than the tracks 
of my soldiers along its superb pikes. I cannot be mis- 
taken in the opinion that the citizens who then lived 
and still live on these highways will bear me out in the 
assertion that we marched into that delightful region, 
and then marched out of it, without leaving any scars 
to mar its beauty or lessen its value. Perhaps I ought 
to record two insignificant exceptions. 

Going into camp in an open country and after dark, 


it was ascertained that there was no wood to be had for 
even the limited amount of necessary cooking, and I was 
appealed to by the men for permission to use a few rails 
from an old-fashioned fence near the camp. I agreed 
that they might take the top layer of rails, as the fence 
would still be high enough to answer the farmer's pur- 
pose. When morning came the fence had nearly all 
disappeared, and each man declared that he had taken 
only the top rail ! The authorized (?) destruction of that 
fence is not difficult to understand ! It was a case of 
adherence to the letter and neglect of the spirit; but 
there was no alternative except good-naturedly to admit 
that my men had gotten the better of me that time. 

The other case of insignificant damage inflicted by our 
presence in the Valley of Pennsylvania was the appli- 
cation of the Confederate "conscript law" in drafting 
Pennsylvania horses into service. That law was passed 
by the Confederate Congress in order to call into our 
ranks able-bodied men at the South, but my soldiers 
seemed to think that it might be equally serviceable for 
the ingathering of able-bodied horses at the North. The 
trouble was that most of these horses had fled the 
country or were in hiding, and the owners of the few 
that were left were not submissive to Southern authority. 
One of these owners, who, I believe, had not many years 
before left his fatherland and was not an expert in the 
use of English, attempted to save his favorite animal by 
a verbal combat with my quartermaster. That officer, 
however, failing to understand him, sent him to me. 
The " Pennsylvania Dutchman," as his class was known 
in the Valley, was soon firing at me his broken English, 
and opened his argument with the announcement : "You 
be's got my mare." I replied, "It is not at all improba- 
ble, my friend, that I have your mare, but the game we 
are now playing is what was called in my boyhood 'tit 
for tat ' " ; and I endeavored to explain to him that the 


country was at war, that at the South horses were be- 
ing taken by the Union soldiers, and that I was trying 
on a small scale to .balance accounts. I flattered myself 
that this statement of the situation would settle the 
matter; but the explanation was far more satisfactory 
to myself than to him. He insisted that I had not paid 
for his mare. I at once offered to pay him — in Con- 
federate money; I had no other. This he indignantly 
refused. Finally I offered to give him a written order 
for the price of his mare on the President of the United 
States. This offer set him to thinking. He was quite 
disposed to accept it, but, like a dim ray of starlight 
through a rift in the clouds at night, there gradually 
dawned on him the thought that there might possibly 
be some question as to my authority for drawing on the 
President. The suggestion of this doubt exhausted his 
patience, and in his righteous exasperation, like his great 
countryman hurling the inkstand at the devil, he 
pounded me with expletives in so furious a style that, 
although I could not interpret them into English, there 
was no difficulty in comprehending their meaning. The 
words which I did catch and understand showed that he 
was making a comparison of values between his mare 
and his "free vifes." The climax of his argument was 
in these words : "I 've been married, sir, free times, and 
I vood not geef dot mare for all dose voomans." 

With so sincere an admirer of woman as myself such 
an argument could scarcely be recognized as forcible; 
but I was also a great lover of fine horses, and this poor 
fellow's distress at the loss of his favorite mare was so 
genuine and acute that I finally yielded to his entreaties 
and had her delivered to him. 

When General Early reached York a few days later, 
he entered into some business negotiations with the offi- 
cials and prominent citizens of that city. I was not ad- 
vised as to the exact character of those negotiations, but 


it was rumored through that portion of the army at the 
time that General Early wanted to borrow, or secure in 
some other way, for the use of his troops, a certain 
amount of greenbacks, and that he succeeded in making 
the arrangement. I learned afterward that the only 
promise to repay, like that of the Confederate notes, was 
at some date subsequent to the establishment of Southern 

It will be remembered that the note concealed in the 
flowers handed me at York had indicated a ravine down 
which I could move, reaching the river not far from the 
bridge. As my orders were not restricted, except to 
direct me to cross the Susquehanna, if possible, my im- 
mediate object was to move rapidly down that ravine to 
the river, then along its right bank to the bridge, seize 
it, and cross to the Columbia side. Once across, I in-. 
tended to mount my men, if practicable, so as to pass 
rapidly through Lancaster in the direction of Philadel- 
phia, and thus compel General Meade to send a portion 
of his army to the defence of that city. This programme 
was defeated, first, by the burning of the bridge, and 
second, by the imminent prospect of battle near Gettys- 
burg. The Union troops stationed at Wrightsville had, 
after their retreat across it, fired the bridge which I 
had hoped to secure, and had then stood in battle line on 
the opposite shore. With great energy my men labored 
to save the bridge. I called on the citizens of Wrights- 
ville for buckets and pails, but none were to be found. 
There was, however, no lack of buckets and pails a little 
later, when the town was on fire. The bridge might burn, 
for that incommoded, at the time, only the impatient Con- 
federates, and these Pennsylvanians were not in sym- 
pathy with my expedition, nor anxious to facilitate the 
movement of such unwelcome visitors. But when the 
burning bridge fired the lumber-yards on the river's 
banks, and the burning lumber fired the town, buckets 


and tubs and pails and pans innumerable came from 
their hiding-places, until it seemed that, had the whole of 
Lee's army been present, I could have armed them with 
these implements to fight the rapidly spreading flames. 
My men labored as earnestly and bravely to save the 
town as they did to save the bridge. In the absence of 
fire-engines or other appliances, the only chance to arrest 
the progress of the flames was to form my men around 
the burning district, with the flank resting on the river's 
edge, and pass rapidly from hand to hand the pails of 
water. Thus, and thus only, was the advancing, raging 
fire met, and at a late hour of the night checked and 
conquered. There was one point especially at which my 
soldiers combated the fire's progress with immense en- 
ergy, and with great difficulty saved an attractive home 
from burning. It chanced to be the home of one of the 
most superb women it was my fortune to meet during 
the four years of war. She was Mrs. L. L. Rewalt, to 
whom I refer in my lecture, " The Last Days of the Con- 
federacy," as the heroine of the Susquehanna. I met 
Mrs. Rewalt the morning after the fire had been checked. 
She had witnessed the furious combat with the flames 
around her home, and was unwilling that those men 
should depart without receiving some token of apprecia- 
tion from her. She was not wealthy, and could not en- 
tertain my whole command, but she was blessed with an 
abundance of those far nobler riches of brain and heart 
which are the essential glories of exalted womanhood. 
Accompanied by an attendant, and at a late hour of the 
night, she sought me, in the confusion which followed 
the destructive fire, to express her gratitude to the sol- 
diers of my command and to inquire how long we would 
remain in Wrightsville. On learning that the village 
would be relieved of our presence at an early hour the 
following morning, she insisted that I should bring with 
me to breakfast at her house as many as could find places 


in her dining-room. She would take no excuse, not even 
the nervous condition in which the excitement of the 
previous hours had left her. At a bountifully supplied 
table in the early morning sat this modest, cultured 
woman, surrounded by soldiers in their worn, gray 
uniforms. The welcome she gave us was so gracious, 
she was so self-possessed, so calm and kind, that I found 
myself in an inquiring state of mind as to whether her 
sympathies were with the Northern or Southern side in 
the pending war. Cautiously, but with sufficient clear- 
ness to indicate to her my object, I ventured some re- 
marks which she could not well ignore and which she 
instantly saw were intended to evoke some declaration 
upon the subject. She was too brave to evade it, too 
self-poised to be confused by it, and too firmly fixed in 
her convictions to hesitate as to the answer. With no 
one present except Confederate soldiers who were her 
guests, she replied, without a quiver in her voice, but 
with womanly gentleness : " General Gordon, I fully 
comprehend you, and it is due to myself that I candidly 
tell you that I am a Union woman. I cannot afford to 
be misunderstood, nor to have you misinterpret this 
simple courtesy. You and your soldiers last night saved 
my home from burning, and I was unwilling that you 
should go away without receiving some token of my 
appreciation. I must tell you, however, that, with my 
assent and approval, my husband is a soldier in the 
Union army, and my constant prayer to Heaven is that 
our cause may triumph and the Union be saved." 

No Confederate left that room without a feeling of 
profound respect, of unqualified admiration, for that 
brave and worthy woman. No Southern soldier, no 
true Southern man, who reads this account will fail to 
render to her a like tribute of appreciation. The spirit 
of every high-souled Southerner was made to thrill over 
and over again at the evidence around him of the more 


than Spartan courage, the self-sacrifices and devotion, 
of Southern women, at every stage and through every 
trial of the war, as from first to last, they hurried to the 
front, their brothers and fathers, their husbands and 
sons. No Southern man can ever forget the words of 
cheer that came from these heroic women's lips, and 
their encouragement to hope and fight on in the midst 
of despair. When I met Mrs. Rewalt in Wrightsville, 
the parting with my own mother was still fresh in my 
memory. Nothing short of death's hand can ever oblit- 
erate from my heart the impression of that parting. 
Holding me in her arms, her heart almost bursting with 
anguish, and the tears running down her cheeks, she 
asked God to take care of me, and then said : " Go, 
my son ; I shall perhaps never see you again, but I 
commit you freely to the service of your country." 
I had witnessed, as all Southern soldiers had witnessed, 
the ever-increasing consecration of those women to their 
cause. No language can fitly describe their saintly 
spirit of martyrdom, which grew stronger and rose 
higher when all other eyes could see the inevitable end 
of the terrific struggle slowly but surely approaching. 

Returning from the banks of the Susquehanna, and 
meeting at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, the advance of 
Lee's forces, my command was thrown quickly and 
squarely on the right flank of the Union army. A 
more timely arrival never occurred. The battle had 
been raging for four or five hours. The Confederate 
General Archer, with a large portion of his brigade, had 
been captured. Heth and Scales, Confederate generals, 
had been wounded. The ranking Union commander on 
the field, General Reynolds, had been killed, and Han- 
cock was assigned to command. The battle, upon the 
issue of which hung, perhaps, the fate of the Confeder- 
acy, was in full blast. The Union forces, at first driven 


back, now reenforced, were again advancing and pressing 
back Lee's left and threatening to envelop it. The 
Confederates were stubbornly contesting every foot of 
ground, but the Southern left was slowly yielding. A 
few moments more and the day's battle might have been 
ended by the complete turning of Lee's flank. I was 
ordered to move at once to the aid of the heavily 
pressed Confederates. With a ringing yell, my com- 
mand rushed upon the line posted to protect the Union 
right. Here occurred a hand-to-hand struggle. That 
protecting Union line once broken left my command 
not only on the right flank, but obliquely in rear of it. 
Any troops that were ever marshalled would, under like 
conditions, have been as surely and swiftly shattered. 
There was no alternative for Howard's men except to 
break and fly, or to throw down their arms and sur- 
render. Under the concentrated fire from front and 
flank, the marvel is that any escaped. In the midst of 
the wild disorder in his ranks, and through a storm of 
bullets, a Union officer was seeking to rally his men for 
a final stand. He, too, went down, pierced by a Minie 
ball. Riding forward with my rapidly advancing lines, 
I discovered that brave officer lying upon his back, with 
the July sun pouring its rays into his pale face. He 
was surrounded by the Union dead, and his own life 
seemed to be rapidly ebbing out. Quickly dismounting 
and lifting his head, I gave him water from my canteen, 
asked his name and the character of his wounds. He 
was Major-General Francis C. Barlow, of New York, 
and of Howard's corps. The ball had entered his body 
in front and passed out near the spinal cord, paralyzing 
him in legs and arms. Neither of us had the remotest 
thought that he could possibly survive many hours. I 
summoned several soldiers who were looking after the 
wounded, and directed them to place him upon a litter 
and carry him to the shade in the rear. Before parting, 


he asked me to take from his pocket a package of letters 
and destroy them. They were from his wife. He had 
but one request to make of me. That request was that 
if I should live to the end of the war and should ever 
meet Mrs. Barlow, I would tell her of our meeting on 
the field of Gettysburg and of his thoughts of her in his 
last moments. He wished me to assure her that he died 
doing his duty at the front, that he was willing to give 
his life for his country, and that his deepest regret was 
that he must die without looking upon her face again. 
I learned that Mrs. Barlow was with the Union army, 
and near the battle-field. When it is remembered how 
closely Mrs. Gordon followed me, it will not be difficult 
to realize that my sympathies were especially stirred by 
the announcement that his wife was so near him. 
Passing through the day's battle unhurt, I despatched 
at its close, under flag of truce, the promised message 
to Mrs. Barlow. I assured her that if she wished to 
come through the lines she should have safe escort to 
her husband's side. In the desperate encounters of the 
two succeeding days, and the retreat of Lee's army, I 
thought no more of Barlow, except to number him 
with the noble dead of the two armies who had so glo- 
riously met their fate. The ball, however, had struck 
no vital point, and Barlow slowly recovered, though 
this fact was wholly unknown to me. The following 
summer, in battle near Richmond, my kinsman with 
the same initials, General J. B. Gordon of North Caro- 
lina, was killed. Barlow, who had recovered, saw the 
announcement of his death, and entertained no doubt 
that he was the Gordon whom he had met on the field 
of Gettysburg. To me, therefore, Barlow was dead ; to 
Barlow, I was dead. Nearly fifteen years passed before 
either of us was undeceived. During my second term 
in the United States Senate, the Hon. Clarkson Potter, 
of New York, was a member of the House of Represen- 


tatives. He invited me to dinner in Washington to 
meet a General Barlow who had served in the Union 
army. Potter knew nothing of the Gettysburg inci- 
dent. I had heard that there was another Barlow in 
the Union army, and supposed, of course, that it 
was this Barlow with whom I was to dine. Barlow had 
a similar reflection as to the Gordon he was to meet. 
Seated at Clarkson Potter's table, I asked Barlow: 
" General, are you related to the Barlow who was killed 
at Gettysburg ! " He replied : " Why, I am the man, 
sir. Are you related to the Gordon who killed me?" 
"I am the man, sir," I responded. No words of mine 
can convey any conception of the emotions awakened 
by those startling announcements. Nothing short of 
an actual resurrection from the dead could have amazed 
either of us more. Thenceforward, until his untimely 
death in 1896, the friendship between us which was born 
amidst the thunders of Gettysburg was greatly cher- 
ished by both. 

No battle of our Civil War— no battle of any war- 
more forcibly illustrates the truth that oflicers at a dis- 
tance from the field cannot, with any wisdom, attempt 
to control the movements of troops actively engaged. 
On the first day neither General Early nor General Ewell 
could possibly have been fully cognizant of the situation 
at the time I was ordered to halt. The whole of that 
portion of the Union army in my front was in inextri- 
cable confusion and in flight. They were necessarily in 
flight, for my troops were upon the flank and rapidly 
sweeping down the lines. The firing upon my men had 
almost ceased. Large bodies of the Union troops were 
throwing down their arms and surrendering, because in 
disorganized and confused masses they were wholly 
powerless either to check the movement or return the 
fire. As far down the lines as my eye could reach the 
Union troops were in retreat. Those at a distance were 


still resisting, but giving ground, and it was only neces- 
sary for me to press forward in order to insure the same 
results which invariably follow such flank movements. 
In less than half an hour my troops would have swept 
up and over those hills, the possession of which was of 
such momentous consequence. It is not surprising, with 
a full realization of the consequences of a halt, that I 
should have refused at first to obey the order. Not until 
the third or fourth order of the most peremptory char- 
acter reached me did I obey. I think I should have 
risked the consequences of disobedience even then but 
for the fact that the order to halt was accompanied with 
the explanation that General Lee, who was several miles 
away, did not wish to give battle at Gettysburg. It is 
stated on the highest authority that General Lee said, 
sometime before his death, that if Jackson had been 
there he would have won in this battle a great and pos- 
sibly decisive victory. 

The Rev. J. William Jones, D.D., writing of this state- 
ment of General Lee's, uses these words : " General Lee 
made that remark to Professor James J. White and myself 
in his office in Lexington one day when we chanced to go 
in as he was reading a letter making some inquiries of 
him about Gettysburg. He said, with an emphasis that I 
cannot forget, and bringing his hand down on the table 
with a force that made things rattle: 'If I had had 
Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, I would have won that 
fight, and a complete victory there would have given us 
Washington and Baltimore, if not Philadelphia, and 
would have established the independence of the Con- 
federacy.' " 

No soldier in a great crisis ever wished more ardently 
for a deliverer's hand than I wished for one hour of 
Jackson when I was ordered to halt. Had he been there, 
his quick eye would have caught at a glance the entire 
situation, and instead of halting me he would have urged 


me forward and have pressed the advantage to the 
utmost, simply notifying General Lee that the battle 
was on and he had decided to occupy the heights. Had 
General Lee himself been present this would undoubtedly 
have been done. General Lee, as he came in sight of the 
battle-field that afternoon, sent Colonel Walter H. Taylor, 
of the staff (he makes this statement clearly in his book, 
" Four Years with Lee "), with an order to General Ewell 
to " advance and occupy the heights." General Ewell 
replied that he would do so, and afterward explained in 
his official report that he did not do so because of the 
report from General William Smith that the enemy 
was advancing on his flank and rear, the supposed 
enemy turning out to be General Edward Johnson's Con- 
federate division. Absent as General Lee necessarily 
was, and intending to meet General Meade at another 
point and in defensive battle, he would still have ap- 
plauded, when the facts were made known, the most 
aggressive movements, though in conflict with his 
general plan. From the situation plainly to be seen on 
the first afternoon, and from facts that afterward came 
to light as to the position of the different corps of Gen- 
eral Meade's army, it seems certain that if the Confed- 
erates had simply moved forward, following up the 
advantages gained and striking the separated Union 
commands in succession, the victory would have been 
Lee's instead of Meade's. 1 

I should state here that General Meade's army at that 
hour was stretched out along the line of his march for 

X I give here the numbers engaged. The figures are taken from the 
highest authorities : 

Federal. — Return, June 30, 1863, effective infantry and artillery (cav- 
alry not reported), Army of the Potomac, 84,158 (Official Records, Vol. 
XXVII, Part I, p. 151). To which add cavalry (given by "Battles and 
Leaders" as 13,144), making a total of 97,302. 

Estimates, at the battle : " Battles and Leaders," 93,500 (Vol. Ill, p. 440). 
Doubleday, 82,000 (he accepts estimate of the Count of Paris). Boynton, 


nearly thirty miles. General Lee's was much more con- 
centrated. General Hancock's statement of the situation 
is true and pertinent: "The rear of our troops were 
hurrying through the town, pursued by Confederates. 
There had been an attempt to reform some of the 
Eleventh Corps as they passed over Cemetery Hill, but 
it had not been very successful." And yet I was halted ! 
My thoughts were so harrowed and my heart so bur- 
dened by the fatal mistake of the afternoon that I was 
unable to sleep at night. Mounting my horse at two 
o'clock in the morning, I rode with one or two staff 
officers to the red barn in which General Ewell and 
General Early then had their headquarters. Much of 
my time after nightfall had been spent on the front 
picket-line, listening to the busy strokes of Union picks 
and shovels on the hills, to the rumble of artillery wheels 
and the tramp of fresh troops as they were hurried for- 
ward by Union commanders and placed in position. 
There was, therefore, no difficulty in divining the scene 
that would break on our view with the coming dawn. 
I did not hesitate to say to both Ewell and Early that a 
line of heavy earthworks, with heavy guns and ranks of 
infantry behind them, would frown upon us at daylight. 
I expressed the opinion that, even at that hour, two 
o'clock, by a concentrated and vigorous night assault 
we could carry those heights, and that if we waited till 
morning it would cost us 10,000 men to take them. 
There was a disposition to yield to my suggestions, but 

87,000. Meade, in testifying before Commission on Conduct of War, gives 
95,000 (Second Series, Vol. I, p. 337). Livermore's "Numbers and Losses 
in Civil War," 83,000 pp. 102, 103). 

Confederate. — Confederate returns, May 31, 1863, effective force, 68,352 
(Official Records, Vol. XXV, Part I, pp. 845, 846). 

Estimates, at the battle : "Battles and Leaders," 70,000 (Vol. IV, p. 440). 
Doubleday, 73,500 (he accepts estimate of the Count of Paris). Boynton, 
80,000. Taylor's "Four Years with Lee," 62,000 (p. 113). Livermore's 
"Numbers and Losses," 75,054 (pp. 102, 103). 


other counsels finally prevailed. Those worts were never 
carried, but the cost of the assault upon them, the 
appalling carnage resulting from the effort to take them, 
far exceeded that which I had ventured to predict. 

Late in the afternoon of this first day's battle, when 
the firing had greatly decreased along most of the lines, 
General Ewell and I were riding through the streets of 
Gettysburg. In a previous battle he had lost one of his 
legs, but prided himself on the efficiency of the wooden 
one which he used in its place. As we rode together, a 
body of Union soldiers, posted behind some buildings 
and fences on the outskirts of the town, suddenly opened 
a brisk fire. A number of Confederates were killed or 
wounded, and I heard the ominous thud of a Minie ball 
as it struck General Ewell at my side. I quickly asked : 
"Are you hurt, sir!" "No, no," he replied; "I'm not 
hurt. But suppose that ball had struck you : we would 
have had the trouble of carrying you off the field, sir. 
You see how much better fixed for a fight I am than you 
are. It don't hurt a bit to be shot in a wooden leg." 

Ewell was one of the most eccentric characters, and, 
taking him all in all, one of the most interesting that I 
have ever known. It is said that in his early manhood 
he had been disappointed in a love affair, and had never 
fully recovered from its effects. The fair young woman 
to whom he had given his affections had married another 
man ; but Ewell, like the truest of knights, carried her 
image in his heart through long years. When he was 
promoted to the rank of brigadier or major-general, he 
evidenced the constancy of his affections by placing upon 
his staff the son of the woman whom he had loved in his 
youth. The meddlesome Fates, who seem to revel in the 
romances of lovers, had decreed that Ewell should be 
shot in battle and become the object of solicitude and 
tender nursing by this lady, who had been for many 
years a widow— Mrs. Brown. Her gentle ministrations 


soothed his weary weeks of suffering, a marriage ensued, 
and with it came the realization of Swell's long-deferred 
hope. It was most interesting to note the change that 
came over the spirit of this formerly irascible old bach- 
elor. He no longer sympathized with General Early, 
who, like himself, was known to be more intolerant of 
soldiers' wives than the crusty French marshal who pro- 
nounced them the most inconvenient sort of baggage for 
a soldier to own. Ewell had become a husband, and 
was sincerely devoted to Mrs, Ewell. He never seemed 
to realize, however, that her marriage to him had changed 
her name, for he proudly presented her to his friends as 
" My wife, Mrs. Brown, sir." 

Whatever differences of opinion may now or here- 
after exist as to the results which might have fol- 
lowed a defeat of the Union arms at Gettysburg, 
there is universal concurrence in the judgment that 
this battle was the turning-point in the South's for- 
tunes. The point where Pickett's Virginians, under 
Kemper, Garnett, and Armistead, in their immortal 
charge, swept over the rock wall, has been appropri- 
ately designated by the Government as "the high- water 
mark of the Rebellion." To the Union commander, 
General George Gordon Meade, history will accord the 
honor of having handled his army at Gettysburg with 
unquestioned ability. The record and the results of the 
battle entitle him to a high place among Union leaders. 
To him and to his able subordinates and heroic men is 
due the credit of having successfully met and repelled 
the Army of Northern Virginia in the meridian of its 
hope and confidence and power. This much seems 
secure to him, whether his failure vigorously to follow 
General Lee and force him to another battle is justified 
or condemned by the military critics of the future. 
General Meade's army halted, it is true, after having 
achieved a victory. The victory, however, was not of 


so decisive a character as to demoralize Lee's forces. 
The great Bonaparte said that bad as might be the con- 
dition of a victorious army after battle, it was invariably- 
true that the condition of the defeated army was still 
worse. If, however, any successful commander was 
ever justified in disregarding this truism of Bonaparte's, 
General Meade was that commander ; for a considerable 
portion .of Lee's army, probably one third of it, was still 
in excellent fighting trim, and nearly every man in it 
would have responded with alacrity to Lee's call to form 
a defensive line and deliver battle. 

It was my pleasure to know General Meade well after 
the war, when he was the Department Commander or 
Military Governor of Georgia. An incident at a banquet 
in the city of Atlanta illustrates his high personal and 
soldierly characteristics. The first toast of the evening 
was to General Meade as the honored guest. When this 
toast had been drunk, my health was proposed. There- 
upon, objection was made upon the ground that it was 
" too soon after the war to be drinking the health of a 
man who had been fighting for four years in the Rebel 
army." It is scarcely necessary to say that this remark 
came from one who did no fighting in either army. He 
belonged to that curious class of soldiers who were as 
valiant in peace as they were docile in war ; whose de- 
fiance of danger became dazzling after the danger was 
past. General Meade belonged to the other class of 
soldiers, who fought as long as fighting was in order, 
and was ready for peace when there was no longer any 
foe in the field. This chivalric chieftain of the Union 
forces at Gettysburg was far more indignant at the 
speech of the bomb-proof warrior than I was myself. 
The moment the objection to drinking my health was 
suggested, General Meade sprang to his feet, and with a 
compliment to myself which I shall not be expected to 
repeat, and a rebuke to the objector, he held high his 


glass and said, with significant emphasis : " I propose to 
drink, and drink now, to my former foe, but now my 
friend, General Gordon, of Georgia." 

It will not be expected that any considerable space be 
devoted to the unseemly controversy over those brilliant 
but disastrous Confederate charges which lost the day 
at Gettysburg. I could scarcely throw upon the subject 
any additional light nor bring to its elucidation any ma- 
terial testimony not already adduced by those who have 
written on the one side or the other. A sense of justice, 
however, to say nothing of loyalty to Lee's memory, im- 
pels me to submit one observation; and I confidently 
affirm that nearly every soldier who fought under him 
will sympathize with the suggestion,, It is this: that 
nothing that occurred at Gettysburg, nor anything that 
has been written since of that battle, has lessened the 
conviction that, had Lee's orders been promptly and 
cordially executed, Meade's centre on the third day would 
have been penetrated and the Union army overwhelm- 
ingly defeated. Lee's hold upon the confidence of his 
army was absolute. The repulse at Gettysburg did not 
shake it. I recall no instance in history where a defeated 
army retained in its retreating commander a faith so 
complete, and gave to him subsequent support so enthu- 
siastic and universal. 

General Longstreet is undoubtedly among the great 
American soldiers who attained distinction in our Civil 
War ; and to myself, and, I am sure, to a large majority 
of the Southern people, it is a source of profound regret 
that he and his friends should have been brought into 
such unprofitable and ill-tempered controversy with the 
friends of his immortal chieftain. 1 

1 It now seems certain that impartial military critics, after thorough in- 
vestigation, will consider the following as established : 

1. That General Lee distinctly ordered Longstreet to attack early the 
morning of the second day, and if he had done so, two of the largest corps 


A third of a century has passed since, with Lee's 
stricken but still puissant army, I turned my back upon 
the field of Gettysburg, on which nearly 40,000 Americans 
went down, dead or wounded, at the hands of fellow- 
Americans. The commanders-in-chief and nearly all the 
great actors upon it are dead. Of the heroes who fought 
there and survived the conflict, a large portion have since 
joined the ranks of those who fell. A new generation 
has taken their places since the battle's roar was hushed, 
but its thunders are still reverberating through my 
memory. No tongue, nor pen, can adequately portray 
its vacillating fortunes at each dreadful moment. As I 
write of it now, a myriad thrilling incidents and rapidly 
changing scenes, now appalling and now inspiring, rush 
over my memory. I hear again the words of Barlow: 
"Tell my wife that I freely gave my life for my country." 
Yonder, resting on his elbow, I see the gallant young 
Avery in his bloody gray uniform among his brave 
North Carolinians, writing, as he dies : " Tell father that 
I fell with my face to the foe." On the opposite hills, 
Lee and Meade, surrounded by staff and couriers and 

of Meade's army would not have been in the fight ; but Longstreet delayed 
the attack until four o'clock in the afternoon, and thus lost his opportunity 
of occupying Little Round Top, the key to the position, which he might 
have done in the morning without firing a shot or losing a man. 

2. That General Lee ordered Longstreet to attack at daybreak on the 
morning of the third day, and that he did not attack until two or three 
o'clock in the afternoon, the artillery opening at one. 

3. That General Lee, according to the testimony of Colonel Walter 
Taylor, Colonel C. S. Venable, and General A. L. Long, who were present 
when the order was given, ordered Longstreet to make the attack on the 
last day, with the three divisions of his corps, and two divisions of A. P. 
Hill's corps, and that instead of doing so he sent fourteen thousand men to 
assail Meade's army in his strong position, and heavily intrenched. 

4. That the great mistake of the halt on the first day woiild have been 
repaired on the second, and even on the third day, if Lee's orders had been 
vigorously executed, and that General Lee died believing (the testimony on 
this point is overwhelming) that he lost Gettysburg at last by Longstreet's 
disobedience of orders. 


with glasses in hand, are surveying the intervening 
space. Over it the flying shells are plunging, shrieking, 
bursting. The battered Confederate line staggers, reels, 
and is bent back before the furious blast. The alert 
Federals leap from the trenches and over the walls and 
rush through this thin and wavering line. Instantly, 
from the opposite direction, with deafening yells, come 
the Confederates in countercharge, and the brave Fed- 
erals are pressed back to the walls. The Confederate 
banners sweep through the riddled peach orchard ; while 
farther to the Union left on the gory wheat-field the im- 
pacted forces are locked in deadly embrace. Across this 
field in alternate waves rolls the battle's tide, now from 
the one side, now from the other, until the ruthless 
Harvester piles his heaps of slain thicker than the grain 
shocks gathered by the husbandman's scythe. Hard by 
is Devil's Den. Around it and over it the deadly din of 
battle roars. The rattle of rifles, the crash of shells, the 
shouts of the living and groans of the dying, convert 
that dark woodland into a harrowing pandemonium. 
Farther to the Union left, Hood, with his stalwart Texans, 
is climbing the Eound Tops. For a moment he halts to 
shelter them behind the great boulders. A brief pause 
for rest, and to his command, " Forward ! " they mount 
the huge rocks reddened with blood — and Hood's own 
blood is soon added. He falls seriously wounded ; but his 
intrepid Alabamians under Law press forward. The fiery 
brigades of McLaws move to his aid. The fiercest strug- 
gle is now for the possession of Little Round Top. Stand- 
ing on its rugged summit like a lone sentinel is seen an 
erect but slender form clad in the uniform of a Union 
officer. It is Warren, Meade's chief of engineers. With 
practised eye, he sees at a glance that, quickly seized, 
that rock-ribbed hill would prove a Gibraltar amidst the 
whirling currents of the battle, resisting its heaviest 
shocks. Staff: and couriers are summoned, who swiftly 


bear his messages to the Union leaders. Veterans from 
Hancock and Sykes respond at a " double-quick." Around 
its base, along its sides, and away toward the Union right, 
with the forces of Sickles and Hancock, the gray veterans 
of Longstreet are in herculean wrestle. Wilcox's Ala- 
bamians and Barksdale's Mississippians seize a Union 
battery and rush on. The Union lines under Humphreys 
break through a Confederate gap and sweep around 
Barksdale's left. Wright's Georgians and Perry's Flo- 
ridians are hurled against Humphreys and break him in 
turn. Amidst the smoke and fury, Sickles with thigh- 
bone shivered, sickens and falls from his saddle into 
the arms of his soldiers. Sixty per cent, of Hancock's 
veterans go down with his gallant Brigadiers Willard, 
Zook, Cross, and Brooke. The impetuous Confederate 
leaders, Barksdale and Semmes, fall and die, but their 
places are quickly assumed by the next in command. 
The Union forces of Vincent and Weed, with Hazlett's 
artillery, have reached the summit, but all three are killed. 
The apex of Little Round Top is the point of deadliest 
struggle. The day ends, and thus ends the battle. As 
the last rays of the setting sun fall upon the summit, 
they are reflected from the batteries and bayonets of the 
Union soldiers still upon it, with the bleeding Confed- 
erates struggling to possess it. The embattled hosts sleep 
upon their arms. The stars look down at night upon 
a harrowing scene of pale faces all over the field, and 
of sufferers in the hospitals behind the lines—an army 
of dead and wounded numbering over twenty thousand. 

The third day's struggle was the bloody postscript to 
the battle of the first and second. There was a pause. 
Night had intervened. It was only a pause for breath. 
Of sieep there was little for the soldiers, perhaps none 
for the throbbing brains of the great chieftains. Vic- 
tory to Lee meant Southern independence. Victory to 


Meade meant an inseparable Union. The life of the 
Confederacy, the unity of the Republic — these were 
the stakes of July -3. Meade decided to defend; Lee 
resolved to assault. The decisive blow at Meade's 
left centre was planned for the early morning. The 
morning came and the morning passed. The Union 
right, impatient at the Confederate delay, opens fire on 
Lee's left. The challenge is answered by a Confederate 
charge under Edward Johnson. The Union trenches 
are carried. Ruger's Union lines sweep down from the 
heights on Johnson's left and recover these trenches. 
High noon is reached, but the assault on the left centre 
is still undelivered. With every moment of delay, Lee's 
chances are diminishing with geometrical progression. 
At last the heavy signal-guns break the fatal silence 
and summon the gray lines of infantry to the charge. 
Pickett's Virginians are leading. The tired veterans of 
Heth and Wilcox and Pettigrew move with them. Down 
the long slope and up the next the majestic column 
sweeps. With Napoleonic skill, Meade's artillerists turn 
the converging, galling fire of all adjacent batteries upon 
the advancing Confederates. The heavy Southern guns 
hurl their solid shot and shell above the Southern lines 
and into the Union ranks on the summit. The air 
quivers and the hills tremble. Onward, still onward, 
the Southern legions press. Through a tempest of in- 
describable fury they rush toward the crest held by the 
compact Union lines. The Confederate leaders, G-ar- 
nett, Trimble, and Kemper, fall in the storm — the first 
dead, the others down and disabled. On the Union 
side, Hancock and Gibbon are borne bleeding to the 
rear. Still onward press the men in gray, their ranks 
growing thinner, their lines shorter, as the living press 
toward the centre to fill the great gaps left by the dead. 
Nearly every mounted officer goes down. Riderless 
horses are flying hither and thither. Above the battle's 


roar is heard the familiar Southern yell. It proclaims 
fresh hope, but false hope. Union batteries are seen 
to limber up, and the galloping horses carry them to 
the rear. The Confederate shout is evoked by a mis- 
apprehension. These guns are not disabled. They do 
not fly before the Confederate lines from fear of capture. 
It is simply to cool their heated throats. Into their 
places quickly wheel the fresh Union guns. Like burn- 
ing lava from volcanic vents, they pour a ceaseless 
current of fire into the now thin Confederate ranks. 
The Southern left is torn to fragments. Quickly the 
brilliant Alexander, his ammunition almost exhausted, 
flies at a furious gallop with his batteries to the support 
of the dissolving Confederate infantry. Here and there 
his horses and riders go down and check his artillery's 
progress. His brave gunners cut loose the dead horses, 
seize the wheels, whirl the guns into position, and pour 
the hot grape and canister into the faces of the Federals. 
The Confederates rally under the impulse, and rush 
onward. At one instant their gray jackets and flashing 
bayonets are plainly seen in the July sun. At the next 
they disappear, hidden from view as the hundreds of 
belching cannon conceal and envelop them in sulphur- 
ous smoke. The brisk west wind lifts and drives the 
smoke from the field, revealing the Confederate banners 
close to the rock wall. Will they go over ? Look ! 
They are over and in the Union lines. The left centre 
is pierced, but there is no Union panic, no general flight. 
The Confederate battle-flags and the Union banners are 
floating side by side. Face to face, breast to breast, are 
the hostile hosts. The heavy guns are silent. The 
roar of artillery has given place to the rattle of rifles and 
crack of pistol-shots, as the officers draw their side 
arms. The awful din and confusion of close combat is 
heard, as men batter and brain each other with clubbed 
muskets. The brave young Pennsylvanian, Lieutenant 


Cushing, shot in both thighs, still stands by his guns. 
The Confederates seize them; but he surrenders them 
only with his life. .One Southern leader is left; it is 
the. heroic Armistead. He calls around him the shat- 
tered Southern remnants. Lifting his hat on the point 
of his sword, he orders " Forward ! " on the second line, 
and falls mortally wounded amidst the culminating fury 
of Gettysburg's fires. 

The collision had shaken the continent. For three 
days the tumult and roar around Cemetery Heights and 
the Eound Tops seemed the echo of the internal com- 
motion which ages before had heaved these hills above 
the surrounding plain. 

It is a great loss to history and to posterity that Gen- 
eral Lee did not write his own recollections as General 
Grant did. It was his fixed purpose to do so for 
some years after the war ended. From correspondence 
and personal interviews with him, I know that he was 
profoundly impressed with the belief that it was his 
duty to write, and he expended much time and labor in 
getting the material for such a work. From his re- 
ports, which are models of official papers, were neces- 
sarily excluded the free and full comments upon plans, 
movements, men, failures, and the reasons for such 
failures, as they appeared to him, and of which he was 
the most competent witness. To those who knew Gen- 
eral Lee well, and who added to this knowledge a just 
appreciation of his generous nature, the assumption by 
him of entire responsibility for the failure at Gettysburg 
means nothing except an additional and overwhelming 
proof of his almost marvellous magnanimity. He was 
commander-in-chief, and as such and in that sense he 
was responsible ; but in that sense he was also respon- 
sible for every act of every officer and every soldier in 
his army. This, however, is not the kind of responsi- 


bility under discussion. This is not the standard which 
history will erect and by which he will be judged. If 
by reason of repeated mistakes or blunders he had lost 
the confidence and respect of his army, and for this 
cause could no longer command its cordial and enthusi- 
astic support, this fact would fix his responsibility for 
the failure. But no such conditions appertained. As 
already stated, the confidence in him before and after 
the battle was boundless. Napoleon Bonaparte never 
more firmly held the faith of Frenchmen, when thrones 
were trembling before him, than did Lee hold the faith 
of his devoted followers, amidst the gloom of his heav- 
iest disasters. 

If his plan of battle was faulty, then for this he is 
responsible ; but if his general plan promised success, 
and if there was a lack of cheerful, prompt, and intelli- 
gent cooperation in its execution, or if there were delays 
that General Lee could not foresee nor provide against, 
and which delays or lack of cooperation enabled Gen- 
eral Meade to concentrate his reserves behind the point 
of contemplated attack, then the responsibility is shifted 
to other shoulders. 

There was nothing new or especially remarkable in 
General Lee's plans. Novelties in warfare are confined 
rather to its implements than to the methods of deliver- 
ing battle. To Hannibal and Caesar, to Frederick and 
Napoleon, to Grant and Lee, to all great soldiers, the 
plan was familiar. It was to assault along the entire 
line and hold the enemy to hard work on the wings, 
while the artillery and heaviest impact of infantry pene- 
trated the left centre. Cooperation by every part of his 
army was expected and essential. However well trained 
and strong may be the individual horses in a team, they 
will never move the stalled wagon when one pulls for- 
ward while the other holds back. They must all pull 
together, or the heavily loaded wagon will never be car- 


ried to the top of the hill. Such cooperation at Gettys- 
burg was only partial, and limited to comparatively small 
forces. Pressure— hard, general, and constant pressure— 
upon Meade's right would have called him to its defence 
and weakened his centre. That pressure was only spas- 
modic and of short duration. Lee and his plan could 
only promise success on the proviso that the movement 
was both general and prompt. It was neither. Moments 
in battle are pregnant with the fate of armies. When the 
opportune moment to strike arrives, the blow must fall ; 
for the next instant it may be futile. Not only moments, 
but hours, of delay occurred. I am criticising officers for 
the lack of complete cooperation, not for unavoidable 
delays. I am simply stating facts which must necessarily 
affect the verdict of history. Had all the commands 
designated by General Lee cooperated by a simultaneous 
assault, thus preventing Meade from grouping his troops 
around his centre, and had the onset upon that centre 
occurred in the early morning, as intended by Lee, it 
requires no partiality to see that this great commander's 
object would have been assuredly achieved. That the 
plan involved hazard is undoubtedly true. All battles 
between such troops as confronted each other at Gettys- 
burg are hazardous and uncertain. If the commanders 
of the Confederate and Union armies had waited for 
opportunities free of hazard and uncertainty, no great 
battle would have been fought and the war never would 
have ended. The question which history will ask is this : 
Was General Lee justified in expecting success? The 
answer will be that, with his experience in meeting the 
same Union army at Fredericksburg, at the second 
Manassas, in the seven-days' battles around Richmond, 
and at Chancellorsville ; with an army behind him which 
he believed well-nigh invincible, and which army believed 
its commander well-nigh infallible ; with a victory for his 
troops on the first day at Gettysburg, the completeness 


of which had been spoiled only by an untimely and fatal 
halt ; with the second day's battle ending with alternate 
successes and indecisive results ; and with the expecta- 
tion of prompt action and vigorous united cooperation, 
he was abundantly justified in confidently expecting 

Wellington at Waterloo and Meade at Gettysburg, each 
held the highlands against his antagonist. Wellington 
on Mont-Saint-Jean, and Meade on Cemetery Ridge, had 
the bird's-eye view of the forces of attack. The English 
batteries on the plateau and the Union batteries on Cem- 
etery Heights commanded alike the intervening undula- 
tions across which the charging columns must advance. 
Behind Mont- Saint- Jean, to conceal Wellington's move- 
ments from Napoleon's eye, were the woodlands of 
Soignies. Behind Cemetery Ridge, to conceal Meade's 
movements from the field-glasses of Lee, was a sharp 
declivity, a protecting and helpful depression. As the 
French under Napoleon at Waterloo, so the Confederates 
under Lee at Gettysburg, held the weaker position. In 
both cases the assailants sought to expel their opponents 
from the stronger lines. I might add another resem- 
blance in the results which followed. Waterloo decreed 
the destiny of France, of England, of Europe. Gettys- 
burg, not so directly or immediately, but practically, 
decided the fate of the Confederacy. 

There were points of vast divergence. The armies 
which met at Waterloo were practically equal. This was 
not true of the armies that met at Gettysburg. 1 Napo- 
leon's artillery far exceeded that of Wellington. Lee's 
was far inferior to Meade's, in the metal from which the 

1 General Lee's army at Gettysburg, according to most reliable estimates 
[see note, pp. 155 and 156], was about 60,000 or 62,000 ; General Meade's is 
placed by different authorities at figures ranging from 82,000 to 105,000. 
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography places the numbers of Lee at 
69,000 and Meade's between 82,000 and 84,000. 


guns were moulded, as well as in number. Waterloo was 
a rout, Gettysburg a repulse. Napoleon, in the ensuing 
panic, was a deserted fugitive. Lee rode amidst his 
broken lines calmly majestic, the idol of his followers. 
With no trace of sympathy for Napoleon's selfish aims, 
with righteous condemnation of his vaulting ambition, 
one cannot fail to realize the profound pathos of his 
position on that dismal night of wildest panic and lonely 
flight. Abandoned by fortune, deserted by his army, 
discrowned and doomed, he is described by Hugo as hav- 
ing not an organized company to comfort him, not even his 
faithful Old Guard to rally around him. In Lee's army 
there was neither panic nor precipitate retreat. There 
was no desertion of the great commander. Around him 
still stood his heroic legions, with confidence in him un- 
shaken, love for him unabated, ready to follow his lead 
and to fight under his orders to the last extremity. 

General Meade evidently, perhaps naturally, expected 
far greater confusion and disorganization in Lee's army, 
from the terrific repulse to which it had been subjected. 
He wisely threw his cavalry upon Lee's flank in order 
to sweep down upon the rear and cut to pieces or cap- 
ture the fragments of Southern infantry, in case of gen- 
eral retreat or demoralization. As the Union bugles 
sounded the charge, however, for the gallant horsemen 
under Farnsworth, Lee's right was ready to receive them. 
Proudly they rode, but promptly were they repulsed. 
Many saddles were emptied by Confederate bullets. The 
intrepid commander, General Farnsworth himself, lost 
his life in the charge. On the other flank, and with similar 
design, Lee had placed Stuart with his dashing Confed- 
erate riders. Stuart was to attack when Lee's infantry 
had pierced Meade's centre, and when the Union army 
was cut in twain and in rapid retreat. This occasion 
never came to Stuart, but he found all the opportunity 
he could reasonably desire for the exercise of his men 


and horses in a furious combat with Gregg's five thousand 
Union troopers. 

The introduction of gunpowder and bullets and of 
long-range repeating rifles has, in modern warfare, 
greatly lessened the effectiveness of cavalry in general 
battle with infantry, and deprived that great arm of the 
service of the terror which its charges once inspired. 
In wars of the early centuries, the swift horsemen rode 
down the comparatively helpless infantry and trampled 
its ranks under the horses' feet. For ages after the 
dismemberment of the Roman Empire, it was the 
vast bodies of cavalry that checked and changed the 
currents of battles and settled the fate of armies and 
empires. This is not true now — can never be true 
again ; but a cavalry charge, met by a countercharge of 
cavalry, is still, perhaps, the most terrible spectacle wit- 
nessed in war. If the reader has never seen such a 
charge, he can form little conception of its awe-inspiring 
fury. Imagine yourself looking down from Gettys- 
burg's heights upon the open, wide-spreading plain 
below, where five thousand horses are marshalled in 
battle line. Standing beside them are five thousand 
riders, armed, booted and sp'urred, and ready to mount. 
The bugles sound the " Mount ! " and instantly five 
thousand plumes rise above the horses as the riders 
spring into their saddles. In front of the respective 
squadrons the daring leaders take their places. The 
fluttering pennants or streaming guidons, ten to each 
regiment, mark the left of the companies. On the op- 
posite slope of the same plain are five thousand hostile 
horsemen clad in different uniforms, ready to meet 
these in countercharge. Under those ten thousand 
horses are their hoofs, iron-shod and pitiless, beneath 
whose furious tread the plain is soon to quiver. Again 
on each slope of the open field the bugles sound. Ten 
thousand sabres leap from scabbards and glisten in the 


sun. The trained horses chafe their restraining bits, 
and, as the bugle notes sound the charge, their nostrils 
dilate and their flanks swell in sympathetic impulse 
with the dashing riders. " Forward ! " shouts the com- 
mander. Down the lines and through the columns in 
quick succession ring the echoing commands," Forward, 
forward ! " As this order thrills through eager ears, 
sabres flash and spurs are planted in palpitating flanks. 
The madly flying horses thunder across the trembling 
field, filling the air with clouds of dust and whizzing 
pebbles. Their iron-rimmed hoofs in remorseless tread 
crush the stones to powder and crash through the flesh 
and bones of hapless riders who chance to fall. As 
front against front these furious riders plunge, their 
sweeping sabres slashing edge against edge, cutting a 
way through opposing ranks, gashing faces, breaking 
arms, and splitting heads, it is a scene of wildest war, a 
whirling tempest of battle, short-lived but terrible. 

Ewell's Corps, of which my command was a part, was 
the last to leave Gettysburg, and the only corps of 
either army, I believe, that forded the Potomac. 
Reaching this river, we found it for the time an impass- 
able barrier against our further progress southward. 
The pontoons had been destroyed. The river was deep 
and muddy, swollen and swift. We were leaving 
Pennsylvania and the full granaries that had fed us. 
Pennsylvania was our Egypt whither we had " gone to 
buy corn." We regretted leaving, although we had 
found far less favor with the authorities of this modern 
Egypt than had Joseph and his brethren with the rulers 
of the ancient land of abundance. 

The fording of the Potomac in the dim starlight of 
that 13th of July night, and early morning of the 14th, 
was a spectacular phase of war so quaint and impres- 
sive as to leave itself lastingly daguerreo typed on the 


memory. To the giants in the army the passage was 
comparatively easy, but the short-legged soldiers were a 
source of anxiety to the officers and of constant amuse- 
ment to their long-legged comrades. With their knap- 
sacks high up on their shoulders, their cartridge-boxes 
above the knapsacks, and their guns lifted still higher 
to keep them dry, these little heroes of the army battled 
with the current from shore to shore. Borne down 
below the line of march by the swiftly rolling water, 
slipping and sliding in the mud and slime, and stumbling 
over the boulders at the bottom, the marvel is that none 
were drowned. The irrepressible spirit for fun-making, 
for jests and good-natured gibes, was not wanting to 
add to the grotesque character of the passage. Let the 
reader imagine himself, if he can, struggling to hold his 
feet under him, with the water up to his armpits, and 
some tall, stalwart man just behind him shouting, " Pull 
ahead, Johnny; General Meade will help you along 
directly by turning loose a battery of Parrott guns on 
you." Or another, in his front, calling to him : " Run 
here, little boy, and get on my back, and I '11 carry you 
over safely." Or still another, with mock solemnity, 
proposing to change the name of the corps to " Lee's 
Waders," and this answered by a counter-proposition to 
petition the Secretary of War to imitate old Frederick 
the Great and organize a corps of " Six-footers " to do 
this sort of work for the whole army. Or still another 
offering congratulations on this opportunity for being 
washed, " The first we have had, boys, for weeks, and 
General Lee knows we need it." 

Most of our wounded and our blue-coated comrades 
who accompanied us as prisoners were shown greater 
consideration— they were ferried across in boats. The 
only serious casualty connected with this dangerous 
crossing occurred at the point least expected. From the 
pontoon-bridge, which had been repaired, and which 


was regarded as not only the most comfortable but by 
far the safest method of transit, the horses and a wagon 
loaded with sick and wounded were plunged into the 
river. By well-directed effort they were rescued, not 
one of the men, I believe, being lost. 

General Meade was deliberate in his pursuit, if not 
considerate in his treatment of us. He had induced us 
to change our minds. Instead of visiting Philadelphia 
on this trip, he had persuaded us to return toward Rich- 
mond. He doubtless thought that the last day's fight at 
Gettysburg was fairly good work for one campaign, and 
that if he attempted to drive us more rapidly from 
Pennsylvania, the experiment might prove expensive. 
As previously intimated, he was probably correct in this 
opinion. Had he left his strong position while Lee stood 
waiting for him to come out on the Fourth of July at Get- 
tysburg and to assume the offensive, the chances are at 
least even that his assault would have been repelled and 
might have led to a Union disaster. One of the wisest 
adages in war is to avoid doing what your antagonist 
desires, and it is beyond dispute that, from General Lee 
down through all the grades, even to the heroic privates 
in the ranks, there was a readiness if not a desire to 
meet General Meade should he advance upon us. Meade's 
policy after the Confederate repulse at Gettysburg did 
not differ materially from that of Lee after the Union 
repulse at Fredericksburg. General Halleck, as he sur- 
veyed the situation from Washington, did not like Gen- 
eral Meade's deliberation and pelted him with telegrams 
extremely nettling to that proud soldier's sensibilities. 
In the citadel of the War Office at Washington, General 
Halleck could scarcely catch so clear a view of the situa- 
tion as could General Meade from the bloody and shiv- 
ered rocks of the Round Tops. No one doubts General 
Halleck's ability or verbal impetuosity. To Southern 
apprehension, however, there was far more serious work 


to be expected from the silent Grant and the undemon- 
strative Meade than from the explosive Halleck or ful- 
minating Pope. 

It is one of the curious coincidences of the war that 
the results at Gettysburg furnished the occasion for the 
tender of resignation by each of the commanders-in-chief. 
Lee offered to resign because he had not satisfied him- 
self ; Meade because he had not satisfied his Government. 
Lee feared discontent among his people; Meade found 
it with General Halleck. Relief from command was de- 
nied to Lee ; it was granted at last to Meade. 

It would have been a fatal mistake, a blunder, to 
have accepted General Lee's resignation. There was no 
other man who could have filled his place in the confi- 
dence, veneration, and love of his army. His relief from 
command in Virginia would have brought greater dis- 
satisfaction, if not greater disaster, than did the re- 
moval from command of General Joseph E. John- 
ston in Georgia. The Continental Congress might 
as safely have dispensed with the services of Wash- 
ington as could the Confederacy with those of Lee. 
Looking back now over the records of that Titanic 
sectional struggle in the light of Lee's repeated suc- 
cesses prior to the Gettysburg battle and of his pro- 
longed resistance in 1864-65, with depleted ranks and 
exhausted resources, how strangely sounds the story 
of his self-abnegation and desire to turn over his army 
to some " younger and abler man " ! How beautiful and 
deeply sincere the words, coming from his saddened 
heart, in which he characterized his devoted followers in 
that official letter tendering his resignation ! Speaking 
of the new commander, whose selection he was anxious 
should at once be made, he said : " I know he will have 
as gallant and brave an army as ever existed to second 
his efforts, and it will be the happiest day of my life to 
see at its head a worthy leader— one who can accomplish 


more than I can hope to perform, and all that I have 
wished." He urged with characteristic earnestness as 
his reason for asking the selection of another commander, 
"the desire to serve my country, and to do all in my 
power to insure the success of her righteous cause." He 
had no grievances to ventilate ; no scapegoat to bear the 
burden of his responsibilities; no puerile repinings at 
the fickleness of Fortune ; no complaints to lodge against 
the authorities above him for the paucity of the resources 
they were able to provide. Of himself, and of himself 
only, did he complain ; and he was the only man in his 
army who would have made such complaint. General 
Lee might criticise himself, but criticisms of him by any 
other officer would have been answered by an indignant 
and crushing rebuke from the whole Confederate army. 
The nearest approach he made to fault-finding was his 
statement that his own sight was not perfect, and that 
he was so dull that, in attempting to use the eyes of 
others, he found himself often misled. 

To General Lee's request to be relieved, and to have 
an abler man placed in his position, Mr. Davis very 
pointedly aud truthfully replied that to request him to 
find some one " more fit for command, or who possessed 
more of the confidence of the army, or of the reflecting 
men of the country, is to demand an impossibility." 



The four most crowded and decisive days of the war— Vicksburg the 
culmination of Confederate disaster — Frequent change of com- 
manders in the Trans-Mississippi Department — General Grant's tun- 
nel at Fort Hill— Courage of Pemberton's soldiers— Explosion of the 
mine— Hand-to-hand conflict — The surrender. 

IF called upon to select in the four years of war, from 
April, 1861, to April, 1865, four consecutive days 
into which were crowded events more momentous and 
decisive than occurred in any other like period, I should 
name the 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th of July, 1863. During 
the first three we were engaged at Gettysburg in a 
struggle which might decide the fate of the Federal 
capital, of Baltimore, and possibly of Philadelphia, if not 
of the Union itself. On the 4th General Grant received 
the surrender at Vicksburg of 35,000 Confederates under 
General Pemberton. 

There were other days which will always be conspic- 
uous in the records of that war; but I do not believe 
that any other four days, consecutive or isolated, so 
directly and decidedly dashed the hopes of the Southern 
people. The double disaster to our arms— the Gettys- 
burg failure and the fall of Vicksburg — occurring at dis- 
tant points and almost simultaneously, was a blow heavy 
enough to have effectually dispirited any army that was 
ever marshalled. It is, however, a remarkable fact that 
the morale of the Confederate army was not affected— at 



least, was not perceptibly lowered by it. The men en- 
dured increasing privations with the same cheerfulness 
and fought with the same constancy and courage after 
those events as they did before. In proof, I need only 
summon as witnesses the fields of Chickamauga, Resaca, 
Atlanta, and Jonesboro in Georgia ; Franklin in Tennes- 
see ; Monocacy in Maryland ; and the Wilderness, Spott- 
sylvania, Cold Harbor, Bermuda Hundred, and Peters- 
burg in Virginia. To Southern thought this wonderfully 
persistent courage of the Southern troops is easily under- 
stood on the theory that the independence of the South 
was as consecrated a cause as any for which freemen 
ever fought ; but it is probably true that such steadfast- 
ness and constancy under such appalling conditions will 
remain to analytical writers of later times one of the un- 
solved mysteries of that marvellous era of internecine 

The capture by General Grant of Pemberton and his 
men at Vicksburg was preceded by no great victories in 
the West for either side. The Confederates, however, 
had been successful in their efforts to hold some points 
on the Mississippi River, thus preventing its entire con- 
trol by the Union army and the complete isolation of the 
Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department. 
On the very day (Fourth of July, 1863) when General Grant 
was receiving the surrender of Vicksburg and its starv- 
ing army, the Confederates on the other side of the Mis- 
sissippi were fighting for the possession of the river at 
Helena, Arkansas. General Sterling Price (" Old Pap," as 
he was affectionately called by his men, who felt for him 
the devotion of children for a father) had captured one of 
the leading forts which crowned the hill at Helena, and 
was halting in the fort for Generals Joe Shelby and 
Walker, under Marmaduke, to capture the most northern 
fort and then sweep down upon the Union lines held by 
Colonel Clayton. Shelby was wounded, and Walker did 


not assail the Union lines because he was waiting under 
orders until the fort was captured by Shelby. Out of 
this affair grew that unfortunate quarrel between Gen- 
erals Walker and Marmaduke which ended in a challenge 
to a duel, and the killing of Walker by Marmaduke. 

While Price was thus waiting for the movement under 
Marmaduke, General Holmes, who was the commander- 
in-chief of the Confederate forces, rode to the captured 
fort. He ordered General Price at once to assault an 
infinitely stronger fort, one heavily manned and practi- 
cally impregnable. The forces which Price could bring 
against it were utterly inadequate, and the assault failed, 
disastrously failed, adding to the discomfiture of the 

As illustrating the trials which beset both the Confed- 
erate and United States governments in their efforts to 
select able and efficient chiefs for their armies, I may 
note the fact that the Trans-Mississippi Department 
changed commanders about as often as the Union army 
in Virginia changed leaders in its repeated marches upon 
Richmond. General Holmes was not successful in his 
effort to command the support or the good-will of his 
officers and men. Disagreements with his officers were 
not rare, and arrests were not infrequent. On a notable 
occasion General Joe Shelby, of Missouri, one of the 
noted cavalry officers of the Civil War, was placed under 
arrest and ordered to report to the Commanding Gen- 
eral. Shelby, in his cavalry operations, was compelled 
to depend largely upon his own efforts among the people 
to furnish supplies for his men and horses. Necessarily, 
under such circumstances, there were occasional collisions 
between his appointed foragers and the suffering citizens. 
Such disagreements could not be avoided, although the 
citizens were patriotic and generous, and the large body 
of Shelby's men were of the law-abiding and leading 
classes of northern Missouri. When these disagreements 


occurred between the soldiers and the citizens, complaints 
were made to General Holmes. Without waiting to in- 
vestigate the charges, he at once ordered Shelby under 
arrest. When the dashing cavalryman appeared before 
his commanding general to learn the reason for his 
arrest, the irascible General Holmes opened upon him a 
battery of invective. His first discharge was : " General 
Shelby, you are charged with being a robber, sir, and 
your men with being thieves." 

"Who made these charges, General Holmes?" 

" Everybody, sir ; everybody ! " 

" And you believe them, do you, General Holmes ! " 

" Certainly I do, sir. How can I help believing them?" 

Joe Shelby, justly proud of his splendid command, 
was deeply indignant at the wrong done both to himself 
and his high-spirited men. He was also not a little 
amused by this remarkable procedure and by the fiery 
invectives of the aged commander. He quietly replied : 

"Well, General Holmes, I will be more just to you 
than you have been to me and my men. Everybody says 
that you are a damned old fool ; but I do not believe it." 

This ended the interview, and in the ensuing battles 
nothing more was heard of the arrest or the charges. 
General Shelby died recently while holding the office of 
United States Marshal for his State and the position of 
Commander of the United Confederate Veterans of Mis- 

Among these Missouri Confederates was Dick Lloyd, 
a private in Price's command who deserves a place 
among American heroes. In a furious battle Dick 
Lloyd had both arms shot off below the elbow. He 
recovered, however, and refused to be retired from ser- 
vice. Without hands he still did his duty as a soldier 
to the end of the war, acting as courier, and guiding and 
successfully managing his horse by tying the bridle- 
reins around the crook in his elbow. He lives now in 


Helena, and has supported his family for years by rid- 
ing horseback, carrying mail through country districts. 
The commander of the Union forces at Helena on this 
fourth day of July, 1863, was the gallant General Prentiss, 
who made so enviable a record at Shiloh, where he was 
captured. In that battle the position which for hours 
was held by his men was raked by so deadly a fire that 
it was called by the Federals " The Hornet's Nest " and 
he " The Hero of the Hornet's Nest." At Helena, 
July, 1863, he repulsed Shelby at the flanking fort, 
Feagin at Fort Hindman, and Price at Fort Curtis, 
after that brave old Missourian had captured the fort- 
ress upon Graveyard Hill. Prentiss was, therefore, 
enabled to join General Grant in celebrating the Fourth 
of July over another victory for the Union armies. The 
roaring guns on the opposite banks of the Mississippi 
proclaimed the opening of the river from the source to 
its mouth — news as depressing to the Confederates as it 
was inspiring to the Union armies. To the Southern 
heart and hope this final capture and complete control 
of the great waterway severing the Confederate terri- 
tory and isolating the great storehouse beyond the 
Mississippi, while recognized as a great calamity, was 
perhaps less depressing and galling than the surrender 
at Vicksburg of Pemberton's splendid army of 35,000 men. 
The imperial Roman, Caesar Augustus, after the crushing 
defeat of his vicegerent Varus in Germany, which in- 
volved the destruction of his army and the drag- 
ging of his proud Eagles in the dust, lamented 
more the loss of that valiant body of Roman soldiery 
than he did the breaking of his dominion over German 
territory. In his grief over this irreparable disaster, 
Augustus is said to have murmured to himself as he 
gazed into vacancy, " Varus, Varus, give me back my 
legions." It is no exaggeration to say that if General 
Pemberton could have saved his army, could have 


given back to the Confederacy those splendid " legions " 
which had so long and so bravely fought and starved 
in the trenches around Vicksburg, the fall of that Mis- 
sissippi city would' have been stripped of more than 
half its depressing effects. General Grant knew this. 
He knew that the Confederate government could not 
replace those soldiers, who were among its best ; and he 
decided, therefore, to circumvent, if possible, all efforts 
at escape and every movement to rescue them. 

General Johnston, then chief in command of the Army 
•of the West, had anticipated the siege of Vicksburg and 
had persistently endeavored to prevent General Pem- 
berton being hemmed in. But there was no other avenue 
open to General Pemberton, as General Grant had closed 
all other lines of retreat. 

The shock of Vicksburg's fall was felt from one end 
of the Confederacy to the other. Following so closely 
on the repulse of the Confederates at Gettysburg, it 
called from the press and people thoughtless and unfair 
criticisms. In a peculiarly sensitive mood, the public 
sought some other explanation than the real one, and 
great injustice was done General Pemberton. But this 
brave officer's loyalty and devotion were tested — 
thoroughly tested. At a sacrifice almost measureless, 
he had separated from his own kindred, and in obedi- 
ence to his profound convictions had drawn his sword 
for Southern independence. He did not cut his way out 
of Vicksburg because his army was not strong enough ; 
he did not hold the city longer because his troops and 
the population could not live without food. That great 
soldier, General Joseph E. Johnston, with all his skill in 
manoeuvre and as strategist, failed to afford the needed 
relief. At Raymond, on May 12, General Johnston had 
been forced back upon Jackson, Mississippi. On the 14th 
lie fought the heavy battle of Jackson. On the 16th, 


Pemberton moved out and fought, grandly fought, at 
Champion Hill. Three days later he made another 
stand against Grant's advance at Black Eiver; hold- 
ing the weaker lines and with inferior forces, he was 
driven into the trenches at Vicksburg. On the 22d 
of May, three days later, General Grant invested the 
fated city. Thenceforward to July 4th Pemberton and 
his men held those works against the combined fire of 
small arms, artillery, and gunboats, sinking a Union 
monitor on the river, making sorties to the front, 
resisting efforts to scale the works, rallying around the 
breach made by the explosion at Fort Hill, rushing upon 
and crushing the Union columns as they pressed into 
that breach, and holding the city against every assault, 
save that of starvation. 

Scarcely had General Grant settled in his lines around 
the city when his intrepid men were standing in the 
dim starlight on the margin of the ditches which bor- 
dered the Confederate earthworks. With scaling-lad- 
ders on their shoulders, they made ready to mount the 
parapets and fight hand to hand with the devoted Con- 
federate defenders. These great ditches were deep and 
wide ; the scaling-ladders were too short. Upon the top 
of the earthworks stood Pemberton's men, pouring a 
galling fire down on the Union heads below. Under 
that fire the Union ranks melted, some falling dead upon 
the bank, others tumbling headlong into the ditches, 
still others leaping voluntarily sixteen feet downward 
to its bottom to escape the consuming blast, and the 
remainder abandoning the futile effort in precipitate 

The commanding position along the line of defensive 
works was the fortress on the lofty eminence called 
Fort Hill. Toward this fortress, with the purpose of 
undermining it and blowing it skyward, General Grant 
began early in June to drive his zigzag tunnel. The 


task was not herculean in the amount of labor required 
to accomplish it, but was a most tedious one, as but few 
men could be employed at the work, and every pound of 
earth had to be carried out at the tunnel's mouth. Day 
and night the work was pressed. Nearer and nearer 
the tunnel approached the point where mother earth was 
to receive into her innocent bosom the explosives that 
would hurl the fort high into the air and bury in the 
ruins the brave men who defended it. While such ex- 
plosions failed to accomplish important results during 
this war, the knowledge that they were to occur, and 
the uncertainty as to when or where, filled the minds of 
soldiers with an indescribable apprehension. The high- 
spirited volunteers of both armies could meet without a 
tremor the most furious storms and agony of battle in 
the open field, where they could see the foe and meet 
fire with fire ; if need be, they could face the pelting 
hail of bullets without returning a shot, and meet death 
as Napoleon's great marshal proposed to meet it when, 
in the endeavor to hold his troops in a withering fire 
without returning it, he stepped to their front and, 
folding his arms, said to them, " Soldiers of France, see 
how a marshal can die in discharge of his duty ! " But 
to walk the silent parapets in the gloom of night, above 
the magazine of death which they knew was beneath 
them, to stand in line along the threatened battlements, 
with only the dull tread of the sentinel sounding in the 
darkness, while the imagination pictured the terrors of 
the explosion which was coming perhaps that night, 
perhaps that hour or that moment, or the next: this 
was a phase of war which taxed the nerve of any soldier, 
even the most phlegmatic. 

Pemberton's soldiers, faint with hunger and in full 
knowledge that they were standing above a death- 
dealing magazine, endured such harrowing suspense 
night after night for weeks. As each regiment was 


successively assigned to the awful duty, they wondered 
whether the tunnel was yet complete, whether the bar- 
rels of powder had been placed beneath them, whether 
it was to be their fate or the fate of the next regiment 
to be whirled upward with tons of earth and torn limb 
from limb. Bravely, grandly, they took their posts 
without a murmur. No hyperbole can exaggerate the 
loftiness of spirit that could calmly await the moment 
and manner of such a martyrdom. Every one of those 
emaciated Southern soldiers who trod that fated ground 
should have his name recorded in history. Beside 
them in American war annals should be placed the 
names of those Union soldiers who, amidst the explosions 
and conflagration at Yorktown, Virginia, in December, 
1863, won the gratitude of their people. During those 
trying scenes, in the effort to prevent the escape of the 
Confederate prisoners, Private Michael Ryan of the Six- 
teenth New York, his leg shivered by a shell, remained 
on his knees at his post with his musket in hand. 
Private Healey, One Hundred and Forty-eighth New York, 
stood at the gate, almost parched by the flames, until the 
explosion hurled the gate and his own body high into 
the air. 

,On the night of June 26, 1863, the long-dreaded hour 
came to Pemberton's faithful and fated watchers. Gen- 
eral Grant had finished his tunnel. Under the fortress 
at Fort Hill he had piled the tons of powder, and had 
run through this powder electric wires whose sparks of 
fire were to wake the black Hercules to the work of 
death. As Pemberton's Confederates stood around the 
silent battlements, the moments were lengthened into 
hours by the intensity of their apprehension ; and as 
Grant's veterans crept and formed in the darkness be- 
hind the adjacent hills, waiting for the earthquake shock 
to summon them to the breach, the clock in the sleeping 
city struck the hour of ten. The electric messengers 


flew along the wires. The loaded magazines responded 
with the convulsive roar of a thousand unchained thun- 
derbolts. The hills quivered, shaking from roof to 
foundation-stone every Vicksburg home. High above its 
highest turret flew the trampled floor of the fortress, with 
the bodies of its gray-clad defenders. Into its powder- 
blackened and smoking ruins quickly rushed the charg- 
ing columns of Grant, led by the Thirty- second Eegiment 
of Illinois ; Pemberton's Confederates from the right and 
left and rear of the demolished fort piled into the breach 
at the same instant. Hand to hand over the upheaved 
and rugged earth they grappled with the invaders in the 
darkness. This Illinois regiment, after desperately 
fighting and holding the breach for two hours, was over- 
powered. Again and again in rapid succession came 
the Union charges. Pemberton's veterans, from the 
broken rim of the fortress, poured upon them an inces- 
sant fire from small arms, and, carrying loaded shells 
with burning fuses in their hands, rolled them down the 
crater's banks to explode among the densely packed 
attacking forces. For six hours this furious combat 
raged in the darkness. From ten at night till four in 
the morning the resolute Federals held the breach, but 
could make no headway against the determined Confed- 
erate resistance. The tunnel had been driven, the mag- 
azine exploded, and the fort demolished. The long 
agony of Confederate suspense was over. The desperate 
effort of the Union commander to force his column 
through the breach had failed. The heaps of his dead 
and wounded, more than a thousand in number, piled 
in that narrow space, had given to this spot among his 
surviving men the name of " Logan's Slaughter Pen." 
In the terrific explosion a Confederate negro, who 
chanced to be in the fort at the time, was thrown a 
considerable distance toward the Union line without 
being fatally hurt. Picking himself up half dead, half 


alive, he found around him the Union soldiers moving 
on the smoking crater. 

" How did you get here 1 " he was asked. 

" Don't know, boss. Yestidy I was in de Confed'acy ; 
but, bless de Lawd, last night somethin' busted and 
Mowed me plum' into de Union." 



Lee's army again headed toward Washington— He decides not to 
cross the Potomac at the opening of winter— Meade's counter- 
attack—Capture of a redoubt on the Rappahannock— A criticism of 
Secretary Stanton— General Bragg's strategy— How Rosecrans com- 
pelled the evacuation of Chattanooga. 

IN the autumn of 1863 both Lee's and Meade's armies 
had returned from Pennsylvania and were again 
camping or tramping on the soil of Virginia. The Union 
forces were in complete and easy communication with 
the great storehouses and granaries of the North and 
West. The Confederates were already in a struggle for 
meagre subsistence. Meade began another march on 
Richmond. Lee patched up his army as best he could, 
threw it across Meade's path, and halted him at the 
Rapidan. Thenceforward for weeks and months, these 
two commanders were watching each other from opposite 
sides of the Rapidan, moving up and down the river and 
the roads, seeking an opportunity for a blow and never 
finding it. Lee made the first move. On October 9, 1863, 
he headed his army again toward Washington and the 
Potomac, passing Meade's right, and threatening to throw 
the Confederates between the Union forces and the na- 
tional capital. Lee at one time was nearer to Washing- 
ton than Meade, but as there was no longer any green 
corn in the fields for the Southern soldiers to subsist 
upon, the difficulty of feeding them checked Lee's march 



and put Meade ahead of him and nearer to the defences 
around Washington. Lee then debated whether he 
should assail Meade on or near the old field of Bull Run 
or recross the Potomac into Maryland and Pennsylvania. 
He decided not to attack, because he found Meade's 
position too strong and too well intrenched. He declined 
to cross again the Potomac at the opening of winter, 
because, as he said, " Thousands of our men are bare- 
footed, thousands with fragments of shoes, all without 
overcoats, blankets, or warm clothing. I cannot bear to 
expose them to certain suffering on an uncertain issue." 
We were not able then, as formerly, to furnish to each 
soldier strips of rawhide, which he might tie on, with 
the hair side next his feet, and thus make rude sandals ; 
and these picturesque foot-coverings, if obtainable, 
would scarcely have been sufficient for long marches 
in the coming freezes. So Lee returned to his camps 
behind the Rapidan and Rappahannock. 

Some spirited engagements of minor importance oc- 
curred between detached portions of the two armies, in 
which the honors were about equally divided between 
the two sides. Stuart's Southern horsemen had the better 
of the fight at Buckland, and the Confederates were suc- 
cessful on the Rapidan ; but Warren's Union forces cap- 
tured five pieces of artillery and between four and five 
hundred prisoners from A. P. Hill. 

As Lee moved back, Meade followed, and the programme 
of marching after each other across the river was resumed. 
Just one month, lacking two days, after Lee's move to- 
ward Washington, Meade turned his columns toward 
Richmond. His first dash, made at a redoubt which 
stood in his way on the north bank of the Rappahan- 
nock, was a brilliant success. The redoubt was occupied 
by a portion of Early's troops, and was carried just be- 
fore nightfall by a sudden rush. I sat on my horse, with 
a number of officers, on the opposite side of the little 


river, almost within a stone's throw of the spot. General 
Early did not seem to consider it seriously threatened, 
nor did any one else, although the Union artillery was 
throwing some shells, one of which lowered the perch of 
a visiting civilian at my side by shortening the legs of his 
horse. The dash upon the redoubt was made by Maine 
and Wisconsin regiments— troops of Russell and Upton, 
under Sedgwick, who was regarded by the Confederates 
as one of the best officers in the Union army. Person- 
ally I had great reason to respect Sedgwick, for it was 
my fortune in the ensuing campaign to be pitted against 
him on several occasions. Though nothing like so serious 
to the Confederates in its results, this brilliant little epi- 
sode on the Rappahannock resembled in character the 
subsequent great charge of Hancock over the Bloody 
Angle at Spottsylvania on May 12, 1864. Both assaults 
were so unexpected and made with such a rush that the 
defending troops had no time to fire. Only a few shots 
were discharged at Hancock's men at Spottsylvania, and 
in the capture of this redoubt by Russell and Upton 
only six Union men were killed. It was justly consid- 
ered by General Meade as most creditable to his troops ; 
and he sent General Russell himself to bear the eight 
captured Confederate flags to Washington. Mr. Stanton 
may have been a great Secretary of War, and I must 
suppose him such; but if he treated General Russell 
as he is reported to have treated him, he had as little 
appreciation of the keen sensibilities of a high-strung 
soldier as old Boreas has for the green summer glories 
of the great oak. The Secretary, it is said, was "too 
busy" to see General Russell. The proposition will 
scarcely be questioned, I think, that a Secretary of War, 
who is not called upon to endure the hardships of the 
field and meet the dangers of battle, should never be 
"too busy" to meet a gallant soldier who is defending 
his flag at the front, and who calls to lay before him the 


trophies of victory. Perhaps the Secretary thought that 
General Russell and his men had only done their duty. 
So they had ; but " Light Horse Harry " Lee, the father 
of General Robert E. Lee, only did his duty when he 
planned and executed the brilliant dash upon Paulus 
Hook and captured it. The Continental Congress, how- 
ever, thought it worth its while to turn from its regu- 
lar business and make recognition of the handsome work 
done by voting the young officer a gold medal. All the 
wreaths ever conferred at the Olympic games, all the 
decorations of honor ever bestowed upon the brave, all 
the swords and the thanks ever voted to a soldier, were 
designed to make the same impress upon their recipients 
which three minutes of the busy Secretary's time and a 
few gracious words would have produced on the mind 
and spirit of General Russell and his comrades. 

General Meade crossed the Rappahannock and then 
recrossed it. He found Lee strongly posted behind Mine 
Run, and suddenly returned to his winter quarters. 
General Lee moved back to his encampment on the 
border of the Wilderness and along the historic banks 
of the Rapidan. 

Meantime, in the months intervening between the 
Gettysburg campaign and the hibernation of the two 
armies in 1863-64, a portion of Lee's forces had been sent 
under Longstreet to aid Bragg in his effort to check the 
further advance of the Union army under Rosecrans 
at Chickamauga. My troops were not among those sent 
to Georgia, and therefore took no part in that great bat- 
tle which saturated with blood the soil of my native 

A chapter full of interest to the military critic and to 
the student of strategy might be written of the two 
armies commanded respectively by Rosecrans and 
Bragg, and of their movements prior to the clash in the 
woodlands at Chickamauga. 


The antecedent campaign runs back in a connected 
chain to the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the 
preceding December. Under General Bragg, at Mur- 
freesboro, as one of his division commanders, was an 
ex- Vice-President of the United States, who had also 
been a prominent candidate for the Presidency in the 
campaign of 1860, and had presided over the joint session 
of the two houses of Congress when Abraham Lincoln 
was declared duly elected. This illustrious statesman, 
who was fast winning his way to distinction in his new 
role of Confederate soldier, was John C. Breckinridge of 
Kentucky. Tall, erect, and commanding in physique, 
he would have been selected in any martial group as a 
typical leader. In the campaign in the Valley of Virginia, 
where I afterward saw much of him, he exhibited in a 
marked degree the characteristics of a great com- 
mander. He was fertile in resource, and enlisted and 
held the confidence and affection of his men, while 
he inspired them with enthusiasm and ardor. Under 
fire and in extreme peril he was strikingly courage- 
ous, alert, and self-poised. No man in the Confederate 
army had surrendered a brighter political future, sacri- 
ficed more completely his personal ambition, or suffered 
more keenly from the perplexing conditions in his 
own State. With all his other trials, and before he had 
fairly begun his career as a soldier, General Breck- 
inridge had been strongly tempted to challenge to 
personal combat his superior officer, General Bragg, 
who at the time was commander-in-chief of the Con- 
federate forces in the Department of Tennessee and the 
West. At the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Decem- 
ber, 1862), this brilliant soldier from the blue-grass region 
had led his gallant Kentuckians through a consuming fire 
on both flanks, losing about thirty-six per cent, of his 
men in less than half an hour. General Bragg, who, it 
seems, was not present at the point where this move- 


ment was made, had in some way been misinformed as 
to the conduct of General Breckinridge's troops, and sent 
to Richmond a disparaging despatch. 

These high-bred sons of Kentucky who had left home 
and kindred behind them had already made a record 
of devotion and daring, which grew in lustre to the end 
of the war, and which any troops of any army might 
envy. At this battle of Murfreesboro they had waded 
the river in chilly December, had charged and captured 
the first heights and doubled back one wing of their 
stubbornly fighting antagonists. They had, however, 
been repelled with terrific slaughter in the impossible 
effort to capture the still more commanding hill. In 
this fearful assault they had marched between converg- 
ing lines of fire drawn up in the shape of the letter V, 
the apex of those lines formed by hills crowned with 
batteries. Among their killed was the dashing General 
Hanson, one of the foremost soldiers of Bragg's army. 
No troops that were ever marshalled could have suc- 
ceeded under such conditions and against such odds. 
Had they persisted in the effort, they would simply have 
invited annihilation. Smarting under a sense of the in- 
justice done themselves and their dead comrades by the 
commanding general's despatch to Richmond, and realiz- 
ing their own inability to have the wrong righted, they 
appealed to General Breckinridge, their own commander, 
to resent the insult. Resolutions and protests were 
powerless to soothe their smarting sensibilities or to 
assuage their burning wrath. They urged General 
Breckinridge to resign his position in the army and call 
General Bragg to personal account— to challenge him to 
single-handed combat. General Breckinridge must have 
felt as keenly as they the wrong inflicted, but he was 
more self-contained. He sought to appease them by 
reminding them of the exalted motives which had im- 
pelled them to enlist in the army as volunteers, of the 


self-sacrifice which they had exhibited, and of their duty 
as soldiers to endure any personal wrong for the sake of 
the common cause.. His appeal was not in vain; and 
when he added that if both he and General Bragg should 
live to the end of the war, he would not forget their re- 
quest to call the commanding general to account, they 
gladly went forward, enduring and fighting to the end. 

The Fabian policy of General Bragg, adopted after the 
bloody encounter at Murfreesboro, his retreat to Chatta- 
nooga and beyond it, called from press and people fewer 
and milder protests than those afterward made against 
General Joseph E. Johnston for a like policy. It would 
seem that the persistent criticisms of General Johnston 
for not meeting General Sherman between Dalton and At- 
lanta in determined battle, might have been applied with 
equal force to General Bragg for surrendering the strong 
positions in the gaps of the Cumberland Mountains and 
the line of the Tennessee River to General Rosecrans, with- 
out more resolute resistance. It is much easier, however, 
to criticise a commander than to command an army. In 
both these cases the strong positions alluded to could 
have been successfully flanked and the Confederate com- 
manders forced to retire, as the Union troops moved 
around toward the rear and threatened the Southern 
lines of communication and supplies. General Rose- 
crans was too able a soldier and too wise a strategist to 
assail General Bragg in his selected stronghold when 
the country was open to him on either flank. His policy, 
therefore, was to cross the Tennessee River, not in front 
of Chattanooga, where Bragg was ready to meet him, 
but at a distance either above or below it. Both were 
practicable ; and he set his army in motion toward points 
both above and below the city, thus leaving General 
Bragg in doubt as to his real purpose. He sent a force 
to the hills just opposite Chattanooga, and opened heavy 
fire with his batteries upon Bragg's position. He sent 


still larger forces up the right bank of the Tennessee to 
a point more than forty miles above Chattanooga. Camp- 
fires were built along the brows of the mountains and 
on hillsides, in order to attract Bragg's attention and 
create the belief that the great body of the Union army 
was above the city. Troops were marched across open 
spaces exposed to view, then countermarched behind the 
hills, and passed again and again through the same open 
spaces, thus deepening the impression that large forces 
were marching up the river. To still further strengthen 
this impression upon the Confederate commander, Union 
drums were beat and bugles sounded for great distances 
along the mountain-ranges. Union axes, saws, and 
hammers were loud in their demonstrations of boat- 
building ; but they were only demonstrations. The real 
work, the real preparation, was going forward fully fifty 
miles south of this noisy point. The apparent movement 
above Chattanooga, and the real preparation for crossing 
far below, were admirably planned and consummately 
executed by General Eosecrans, and showed a strategic 
ability perhaps not surpassed by any officer during the 
war. Behind the woods and hills men were drilled in 
the work of laying bridges. Trains of cars loaded with 
bridges and boats were unloaded at a point entirely pro- 
tected from the view of the Confederate cavalry on the 
opposite banks of the river. Fifty of these boats, each 
with a capacity of fifty men, were hurried in the early 
morning to the river-bank and launched upon the water. 
This formidable fleet, carrying 2500 armed men, pulled 
for the other shore, which was guarded only by Confed- 
erate cavalry pickets. With this strong force of Union 
infantry landed on the southern bank, the pontoon-bridge 
soon spanned the stream. Across it were hurried all the 
Union infantry and artillery that could be crowded upon 
it. At other points canoes of enormous size were hewn 
out of tall poplars that grew in the lowlands. Logs were 


rolled into the stream and fastened together, and as 
these improvised flotillas, loaded with soldiers, were 
pushed from the shore, athletic swimmers, left behind, 
caught the enthusiasm, and piling their clothing, arms, 
and accoutrements upon rails lashed together, leaped 
into the stream and swam across, pushing the loaded 
rails before them. At still another point the Union 
cavalry rode into the river and spurred their hesitating 
horses into the deep water for a long swim to the other 
shore. As thousands of struggling, snorting horses bore 
these human forms sitting upright upon their backs, 
nothing seen above the water's surface except the erect 
upper portions of the riders' bodies and the puffing nos- 
trils of the horses with their bushy tails spread out behind 
them, the scene must have presented the appearance of a 
mass of moving centaurs rather than an army of mounted 
soldiers. Such scenes, however, were not infrequent 
during the war— especially with the noted Confederate 
raiders of John Morgan, Jeb Stuart, Bedford Forrest, and 
Mosby. With his army safely across the river, General 
Rosecrans pushed heavy columns across Raccoon and 
Lookout mountains and the intervening valley, com- 
pletely turned G-eneral Bragg's position, and compelled 
the evacuation of Chattanooga without a skirmish. 

It would be the grossest injustice to General Bragg 
to hold him responsible for the failure to prevent Gen- 
eral Rosecrans crossing the Tennessee. An army 
double the size of the one he commanded would have 
been wholly insufficient to cover the stretch of more 
than one hundred miles of river-frontage. The Union 
commander could have laid his pontoons and forced a 
passage at almost any point against so attenuated a 
line of resistance. General Bragg was not only one of 
the boldest fighters in the Confederate army, but he 
was an able commander. Retreat from Chattanooga 
was his only resource. This movement was made not 


an hour too soon. Rosecrans's columns were sweeping 
down from the eastern Lookout Bluffs, and would speed- 
ily have grasped Bragg's only line of railroad and held 
his only avenues of escape. As the Union officers 
Thomas and McCook came down the eastern slopes of 
the mountain and Crittenden came around its point and 
into Chattanooga, Bragg placed his army in position 
for either resisting, retreating, or advancing. He de- 
cided to assume the offensive and to attack the Union 
forces in their isolated positions, and crush them, if pos- 
sible, in detail. Longstreet had not yet arrived; but 
had Bragg's plan of assault been vigorously executed, it 
now seems certain that he would have won a great 
triumph before the Union army could have been con- 
centrated along the western bank of the Chickamauga. 
General Rosecrans himself and his corps commanders 
were fully alive to the hazardous position of his army. 
Bragg's aggressive front changed the policy of the 
Union commander from one of segregation for pursuit 
to one of concentration for defence. Rapidly and skil- 
fully was that concentration effected. Boldly and 
promptly did the Confederates advance. The next scene 
on which the curtain rose was the collision, the crash, 
the slaughter at Chickamauga. 



One of the bloodiest battles of modern times— Comparison "with other 
great battles of the world— Movements of both armies before the 
collision— A bird's-eye view— The night after the battle— General 
Thomas's brave stand— How the assault of Longstreet's wing was 
made— Both sides claim a victory. 

REARED from childhood to maturity in North 
Georgia, I have been for fifty years familiar with 
that historic locality traversed by the little river Chick- 
amauga, which has given its name to one of the 
bloodiest battles of modern times. Not many years 
after the Cherokee Indians had been transferred to their 
new Western home from what was known as Cherokee 
Georgia, my father removed to that portion of the State. 
Here were still the fresh relics of the redskin war- 
riors, who had fished in Chickamauga's waters and shot 
the deer as they browsed in herds along its banks. 
Every locality now made memorable by that stupendous 
struggle between the Confederate and Union armies 
was impressed upon my boyish memory by the legends 
which associated them with deeds of Indian braves. 
One of the most prominent features of the field was the 
old Ross House, built of hewn logs, and formerly the 
home of Ross, a noted and fairly well-educated Chero- 
kee chief. In this old building I had often slept at 
night on my youthful journeyings with my father 
through that sparsely settled region. Snodgrass Hill, 



Gordon's and Lee's Mills, around which the battle raged, 
the La Fayette road, across which the contending lines 
so often swayed, and the crystal Crawfish Spring, at 
which were gathered thousands of the wounded, have 
all been so long familiar to me that I am encouraged 
to attempt a brief description of the awful and inspiring 
events of those bloody September days in 1863. Words, 
however, cannot convey an adequate picture of such 
scenes ; of the countless costly, daring assaults ; of the 
disciplined or undisciplined but always dauntless cour- 
age; of the grim, deadly grapple in hand-to-hand colli- 
sions ; of the almost unparalleled slaughter and agony. 

An American battle which surpassed in its ratio of 
carnage the bloodiest conflicts in history outside of this 
country ought to be better understood by the American 
people. Sharpsburg, or Antietam, I believe, had a 
larger proportion of killed and wounded than any other 
single day's battle of our war; and that means larger 
than any in the world's wars. Chickamauga, however, 
in its two days of heavy fighting, brought the ratio of 
losses to the high-water mark. Judged by percentage 
in killed and wounded, Chickamauga nearly doubled 
the sanguinary records of Marengo and Austerlitz; 
was two and a half times heavier than that sustained 
by the Duke of Marlborough at Malplaquet ; more than 
double that suffered by the army under Henry of 
Navarre in the terrific slaughter at Coutras; nearly 
three times as heavy as the percentage of loss at Sol- 
f erino and Magenta ; five times greater than that of Na- 
poleon at Wagram, and about ten times as heavy as 
that of Marshal Saxe at Bloody Raucoux. Or if we 
take the average percentage of loss in a number of the 
world's great battles — Waterloo, Wagram, Valmy, Ma- 
genta, Solferino, Zurich, and Lodi — we shall find by 
comparison that Chickamauga's record of blood sur- 
passed them nearly three for one. It will not do to say 


that this horrible slaughter in our Civil War was due to 
the longer range of our rifles nor to the more destruc- 
tive character of any of our implements of warfare; 
for at Chickamauga as well as in the Wilderness and at 
Shiloh, where these Americans fell at so fearful a rate, 
the woodlands prevented the hostile lines from seeing 
each other at great distances and rendered the improved 
arms no more effective than would have been rifles of 
short range. Some other and more reasonable explana- 
tion must be found for this great disparity of losses in 
American and European wars. There is but one possi- 
ble explanation — the personal character and the conse- 
crated courage of American soldiers. At Chickamauga 
thousands fell on both sides fighting at close quarters, 
their faces at times burnt by the blazing powder at the 
very muzzles of the guns. 

The Federal army under Rosecrans constituted the 
center of the Union battle line, which, in broadest mili- 
tary sense, stretched from Washington City to New 
Orleans. The fall of Vicksburg had at last established 
Federal' control of the Mississippi along its entire length. 
The purpose of Rosecrans's movement was to penetrate 
the South's centre by driving the Confederates through 
Georgia to the sea. Bragg, to whom was intrusted for 
the time the task of resisting this movement, had retired 
before the Union advance from Chattanooga to a point 
some miles south of the Chickamauga, and the Union 
forces were pressing closely upon his rear. Bragg had, 
however, halted and turned upon Rosecrans and com- 
pelled him to retrace his steps to the north bank of the 
Chickamauga, which, like the Chickahominy in Vir- 
ginia, was to. become forever memorable in the Repub- 
lic's annals. 

In order to obtain a clear and comprehensive view of 
the ever-shifting scenes during the prolonged battle, 
to secure a mental survey of the whole field as the 


marshalled forces swayed to and fro, charging and 
countercharging, assaulting, breaking, retreating, re- 
forming, and again rushing forward in still more des- 
perate assault, let the reader imagine himself on some 
great elevation from which he could look down upon that 
wooded, undulating, and rugged region. 

For forty-eight hours or more the marching columns 
of Bragg were moving toward Chattanooga and along 
the south bank of the Chickamauga in order to cross the 
river and strike the Union forces on the left flank. At 
the same time Rosecrans summoned his corps from dif- 
ferent directions and concentrated them north of the 
river. Having passed, as was supposed, far below the 
point where the Union left rested, Bragg's columns, in 
the early hours of the 19th of September, crossed the 
fords and bridges, and prepared to sweep by left wheel 
on the Union flank. During the night, however, George 
H. Thomas had moved his Union corps from the right to 
this left flank. Neither army knew of the presence of 
the other in this portion of the woodland. As Bragg 
prepared to assail the Union left, Thomas, feeling his 
way through the woods to ascertain what was in his 
front, unexpectedly struck the Southern right, held by 
Forrest's cavalry, and thus inaugurated the battle. For- 
rest was forced back; but he quickly dismounted his 
men, sent the horses to the rear, and on foot stubbornly 
resisted the advance of the Union infantry. Quickly the 
Confederates moved to Forrest's support. The roar of 
small arms on this extreme flank in the early morning 
admonished both commanders to hurry thither their 
forces. Bragg was forced to check his proposed assault 
upon another portion of the Union lines and move to the 
defence of the Confederate right. Eapidly the forces of 
the two sides were thrown into this unexpected collision, 
and rapidly swelled the surging current of battle. The 
divisions of the Union army before whom Forrest's cavalry 


had yielded were now driven back ; but other Federals sud- 
denly rushed upon Forrest's front. The Southern troops, 
under Cheatham and Stewart, Polk, Buckner, and Cle- 
burne, hurried forward in a united assault upon Thomas. 
Walthall's Mississippians at this moment werehurledupon 
King's flank, and drove his brigade in confusion through 
the Union lines; and as Go van's gray-clad veterans 
simultaneously assailed the Union forces under Scribner, 
that command also yielded. The Federal battery was 
captured, and the tide of success seemed at the moment 
to be with the Confederates. Fortune, however, always 
fickle, was especially capricious in this battle. The 
Union forces farther to westward held their ground with 
desperate tenacity. General Rosecrans, the Federal 
commander-in-chief, rode amidst his troops as they hur- 
ried in converging columns to the point of heaviest fire, 
and in person hurled them fiercely against the steadfast 
Confederate front. The shouts and yells and the roll of 
musketry swelled the din of battle to a deafening roar. 
The fighting was terrific. Walthall's Mississippians at 
this point contended desperately with attacks in front 
and on their flank. The Ninth Ohio, at double quick 
and with mighty shout, rushed upon the captured Union 
battery and recovered it. The Confederate gunners were 
killed by bayonets as they bravely stood at their posts. 
Hour after hour the battle raged, extending the area of 
its fire and the volume of its tremendous roar. Here 
and there along the lines a shattered command, its lead- 
ing officers dead or wounded, was withdrawn, reorgan- 
ized, and quickly returned to its bloody work. Still 
farther toward the Confederate right, Forrest again 
essayed to turn the Union left. Charging as infantry, 
he pressed forward through a tempest of shot and 
neared the Union flank, when the Federal batteries 
poured upon his entire line rapid discharges of grape, 
canister, and shell. Round after round on flank and 


front, these deadly volleys came until Forrest's dissolv- 
ing lines disappeared, leaving heaps of dead near the 
mouths of the Union guns. Reforming his broken ranks, 
Forrest, with Cheatham's support, again rushed upon the 
Union left, the impetuous onset bringing portions ef the 
hostile lines to a hand-to-hand struggle. Still there was 
no decisive break in the stubborn Union ranks. Coming 
through woods and fields from the other wings, the flap- 
ping ensigns marked the rapid concentration of both 
armies around this vortex of battle. As the converging 
columns met, bayonet clashed with bayonet and the 
trampled earth was saturated with blood. Here and there 
the Union line was broken by the charges of Cheatham, 
Stewart, and Johnson, but was quickly reformed and re- 
established by the troops under Reynolds. The Union 
commands of Carlin and Heg were swept back before 
the fire at short range from the Southern muskets; 
but as the Confederate lines again advanced and leaped 
into the Union trenches, they were met and checked by 
a headlong countercharge. 

The La Fayette road along or near which the broken 
lines of each army were rallied and reformed, and across 
which the surging currents of fire had repeatedly rolled, 
became the " bloody lane " of Chickamauga. 

The remorseless war-god at this hour relaxed his hold 
on the two armies whose life-blood had been flowing 
since early morning. Gradually the mighty wrestlers 
grew weary and faint, and silence reigned again in the 
shell-shivered forest. It was, however, only a lull in the 
storm. On the extreme Union left the restless Confed- 
erates were again moving into line for a last and tre- 
mendous effort. The curtain of night slowly descended, 
and the powder-blackened bayonets and flags over the 
hostile lines were but dimly seen in the dusky twilight. 
Wearily the battered ranks in gray moved again through 
the bullet-scarred woods, over the dead bodies of their 


brothers who fell in the early hours arid whose pale faces 
told the living of coming fate. Nature mercifully refused 
to lend her light to guide the unyielding armies to fur- 
ther slaughter. But the blazing muzzles of the rifles 
now became their guides, and the first hour of darkness 
was made hideous by resounding small arms and their 
lurid flashes. Here might follow a whole chapter of 
profoundly interesting personal incidents. The escape 
of officers of high rank, who on both sides rode with 
their troops through the consuming blasts, was most 
remarkable ; but here and there the missiles found them. 
General Preston Smith, of Tennessee, my friend in boy- 
hood, was among the victims. A Minie ball in search 
of his heart struck the gold watch which covered it. The 
watch was shivered, but it only diverted the messenger 
of death to another vital point. The inverted casing, 
whirled for a great distance through the air, fell at the 
feet of a Texan, who afterward sent it to the bereaved 
family. Near by was found the Union General Baldwin, 
his blue uniform reddened with his own blood and the 
blood of his dead comrades around him. The carnage 
was appalling and sickening. "Enough of blood and 
death for one day ! " was the language of the bravest 
hearts which throbbed with anguish at the slaughter 
of the 19th and with anxiety as to the morrow's 

Night after the battle ! None but a soldier can realize 
the import of those four words. To have experienced it, 
felt it, endured it, is to have witnessed a phase of war 
almost as trying to a sensitive nature as the battle itself. 
The night after a battle is dreary and doleful enough to a 
victorious army cheered by triumph. To the two armies, 
whose blood was still flowing long after the sun went 
down on the 19th, neither of them victorious, but each 
so near the other as to hear the groans of the wounded 
and dying in the opposing ranks, the scene was indescri- 


bably oppressive. Cleburne's Confederates had waded the 
river with the water to their arm-pits. Their clothing was 
drenched and their bodies shivering in the chill north 
wind through the weary hours of the night. The noise of 
axe-blows and falling trees along the Union lines in front 
plainly foretold that the Confederate assault upon the 
Union breastworks at the coming dawn was to be over an 
abatis of felled timber, tangled brush, and obstructing 
tree-tops. The faint moonlight, almost wholly shut out 
by dense foliage, added to the weird spell of the sombre 
scene. In every direction were dimly burning tapers, 
carried by nurses and relief corps searching for the 
wounded. All over the field lay the unburied dead, their 
pale faces made ghastlier by streaks of blood and clotted 
hair, and black stains of powder left upon their lips when 
they tore off with their teeth the ends of deadly car- 
tridges. Such was the night between the battles of the 
19th and 20th of September at Chickamauga. 

At nine o'clock on that Sabbath morning, September 
20, as the church bells of Chattanooga summoned its 
children to Sunday-school, the signal-guns sounding 
through the forests at Chickamauga called the bleeding 
armies again to battle. The troops of Longstreet had 
arrived, and he was assigned to the command of the 
Confederate left, D. H. Hill to the Confederate right. 
On this latter wing of Bragg's army were the troops of 
John C. Breckinridge, W. H. T. Walker, Patrick Cle- 
burne, and A. P. Stewart, with Cheatham in reserve. 
Confronting them and forming the Union left were the 
blue-clad veterans under Baird, Johnson, Palmer, and 
Reynolds, with Gordon Granger in reserve. Beginning 
on the other end of the line forming the left wing of 
Bragg's battle array were Preston, Hindman, and Bush- 
rod Johnson, with Law and Kershaw in reserve. Con- 
fronting these, beginning on the extreme Union right 
and forming the right wing of Rosecrans's army, were 


Sheridan, Davis, Wood, Negley, and Brannan, with 
Wilder and Van Cleve in reserve. 

The bloody work; was inaugurated by Breckinridge's 
assault upon the Union left. The Confederates, with a 
ringing yell, broke through the Federal line. The Con- 
federate General Helm, with his gallant Kentuckians, 
rushed upon the Union breastworks and was hurled 
back, his command shattered. He was killed and his 
colonels shot down. Again rallying, again assaulting, 
again recoiling, this decimated command temporarily 
yielded its place in line. The Federals, in furious coun- 
tercharge, drove back the Confederates under Adams, 
and his body was also left upon the field. 

The Chickamauga River was behind the Confederates ; 
Missionary Ridge behind the Federals. On its slopes 
were Union batteries pouring a storm of shell into the 
forests through which Bragg's forces were bravely charg- 
ing. As the Confederates under Adams and Helm were 
borne back, the clear ring of Pat Cleburne's "Forward!" 
was heard; and forward they moved, their alignment 
broken by tree- tops and tangled brush and burning 
shells. His superb troops pressed through the storm, 
only to recoil under the concentrated fire of artillery and 
the blazing muzzles of small arms from the Federals be- 
hind their breastworks. The whole Confederate right, 
brigade after brigade, in successive and repeated charges, 
now furiously assailed the Union breastworks, only to 
recoil broken and decimated. Walthall, with his fiery 
Mississippians, was repulsed, with all his field officers 
dead or wounded and his command torn into shreds. 
The gallant Georgians at once rushed into the consum- 
ing blasts, and their brilliant leader, Peyton Colquitt, 
fell, with many of his brave boys around him, close to 
the Union breastworks. The Confederates under Walker, 
Cleburne, and Stewart with wild shouts charged the 
works held by the determined forces of Reynolds, Bran- 


nan, and Baird. Bravely these Union troops stood to 
their posts, bnt the Southern forces at one point broke 
through their front as Breckinridge swept down upon 
flank and rear. George H. Thomas, the "Rock of 
Chickamauga," with full appreciation of the crisis, called 
for help to hold this pivotal position of the Union left. 
Van Derveer's moving banners indicated the quick step of 
his troops responding to Thomas's call; and raked by 
flanking fire, this dashing officer drove Breckinridge back 
and relieved the Union flank. At double quick and with 
ringing shout, the double Union lines pressed forward 
until, face to face and muzzle to muzzle, the fighting be- 
came fierce and desperate. Charging columns of blue and 
gray at this moment rushed against each other, and both 
were shivered in the fearful impact. The superb South- 
ern leader, Deshler, fell at the head of his decimated com- 
mand. Go van's Mississippians and Brown's Tennesseeans 
were forced back, when Bate, also of Tennessee, pressed 
furiously forward, captured the Union artillery, and 
drove the Federals to their breastworks. Again and 
quickly the scene was changed. Fresh Union batteries 
and supporting infantry with desperate determination 
overwhelmed and drove back temporarily the Confed- 
erates led by the knightly Stewart. Still farther west- 
ward, Longstreet drove his column like a wedge into the 
Union right center, ripping asunder the steady line of 
the Federal divisions. In this whirlwind of battle, 
amidst its thunders and blinding flashes, the heroic 
Hood rode, encouraging his men, and fell desperately 
wounded. His leading line was shattered into fragments, 
but his stalwart supports pressed on over his own and 
the Union dead, capturing the first Union line. Halting 
only to reform under fearful fire, they started for the 
second Union position. Swaying, reeling, almost break- 
ing, they nevertheless captured that second line, and 
drove up the ridge and over it the Federal fighters, who 


bravely resisted at every step. Whizzing shells from 
opposing batteries crossed each other as they tore through 
the forest, rending saplings and tumbling severed limbs 
and tree-tops amidst the surging ranks. Wilder's 
mounted Union brigade in furious charge swept down 
upon Manigault's Confederates, flank and rear, and drove 
them in wild confusion ; but the Union horsemen were 
in turn quickly driven from the field and beyond the 
ridge. Battery after battery of Union artillery was cap- 
tured by the advancing Confederates. The roaring tide 
of battle, with alternate waves of success for both sides, 
surged around Snodgrass House and Horseshoe Ridge. 
Before a furious and costly Confederate charge the whole 
extreme Union right was broken and driven from the 
field. Negley's shattered lines of blue abandoned the 
position and retreated to Rossville with the heavy bat- 
teries. Davis, with decimated Union lines under Carlin 
and Heg, moved into Negley's position ; but these were 
driven to the right and rear. Onward, still onward, 
swept the Confederate columns; checked here, broken 
there, they closed the gaps and pressed forward, scatter- 
ing Van Cleve's veterans in wild disorder. Amidst the 
shouting Confederates rode their leaders, Stewart, Buck- 
ner, Preston, Kershaw, and Johnson. The gallant McCook 
led in person a portion of Sheridan's troops with head- 
long fury against the Southern front ; and Sheridan him- 
self rode among his troops, rallying his broken lines and 
endeavoring to check the resistless Southern advance. 
The brave and brilliant Lytle of the Union army, soldier 
and poet, at this point paid to valor and duty the tribute 
of his heart's blood. The Confederate momentum, how- 
ever, scattered these decimated Union lines and compelled 
them to join the retreating columns, filling the roads in 
the rear. 

Rosecrans, McCook, and Crittenden rode to Chatta- 
nooga to select another line for defence. In the furious 


tempest there now came one of those strange, unex- 
pected lulls; but the storm was only gathering fresh 
fury. In the comparative stillness which pervaded the 
field its mutterings could still be heard. Its lightnings 
were next to flash and its thunders to roll around 
Horseshoe summit. Along that crest and around Snod- 
grass House the remaining troops of Rosecrans's left 
wing planted themselves for stubborn resistance — one 
of the most stubborn recorded in history. To meet the 
assault of Longstreet's wing, the brave Union G-eneral 
Brannan, standing upon this now historic crest, rallied the 
remnants of Croxton, Wood, Harker, Beatty, Stanley, 
Van Cleve, and Buell; but up the long slopes the ex- 
ulting Confederate ranks moved in majestic march. 
As they neared the summit a sheet of flame from Union 
rifles and heavy guns blazed into their faces. Before the 
blast the charging Confederates staggered, bent and 
broke ; reforming at the foot of the slope, these daunt- 
less men in gray moved again to still more determined 
assault upon the no less dauntless Union lines firmly 
planted on the crest. Through the blinding fires they 
rushed to a hand-to-hand conflict, breaking here, push- 
ing forward there, in terrible struggle. Through clouds 
of smoke around the summit the banners and bayonets 
of Hindman's Confederates were discovered upon the 
crest ; when Gordon Granger and Steedman, with fresh 
troops, hurried from the Union left and, joining Van 
Derveer, hurled Hindman and his men from this citadel 
of strength and held it till the final Union retreat. With 
bayonets and clubbed muskets the resolute Federals 
pierced and beat back the charging Confederates, cover- 
ing the slopes of Snodgrass Hill with Confederate dead. 
Roaring like a cyclone through the forest, the battle- 
storm raged. Battery answered battery, deepening the 
unearthly din and belching from their heated throats the 
consuming iron hail. The woods caught fire from the 


flaming shells and scorched the bodies of dead and dying. 
At the close of the day the Union forces had been driven 
from every portion- of the field except Snodgrass Hill, 
and as the sud sank behind the cliffs of Lookout Moun- 
tain, hiding his face from one of the bloodiest scenes 
enacted by human hands, this heroic remnant of Rose- 
crans's army withdrew to the rear and then to the works 
around Chattanooga, leaving the entire field of Chicka- 
mauga to the battered but triumphant and shouting 

It is not my purpose to enter the controversy as to 
numbers brought into action by Bragg and Rosecrans 
respectively. General Longstreet makes the strength 
of the two armies practically equal ; General Boynton's 
figures give to Bragg superiority in numbers. It is 
sufficient for my purpose to show that the courage dis- 
played by both sides was never surpassed in civilized or 
barbaric warfare ; that there is glory enough to satisfy 
both ; that the fighting from first to last was furious ; 
that there was enough precious blood spilt by those 
charging and recoiling columns in the deadly hand-to- 
hand collisions on the 19th and 20th of September to 
immortalize the prowess of American soldiery and make 
Chickamauga a Mecca through all the ages. 1 

The fact that both sides claim a victory is somewhat 
remarkable. General H. V. Boynton, who fought under 
General Rosecrans, to whose vigorous pen and wise 
labors much credit is due for the success of the great 
battle park at Chickamauga, and who is one of the ablest 
and fairest of the commentators upon this memorable 
struggle, has devoted much time and labor to prove that 
the victory was with the Union arms. "With sincere 

1 Despatch of C. A. Dana : " Chickamauga is as fatal a name in our history 
as Bull Run." (See page 111, Confederate Military History, Vol. VIII, 
Tennessee ; also page 179, Confederate Military History, Vol. IX, Kentucky; 
also page 358, Confederate Military History, Vol. X, Arkansas.) 


friendship for General Boynton as a man and a soldier, 
and with full appreciation of his ability and sense of 
justice, I must be permitted to suggest that his reason- 
ing will scarcely stand the test of unbiassed historical 
criticism. His theory is that although General Eose- 
crans abandoned the field after two days of determined 
and desperate fighting in the effort to hold it, yet his re- 
tirement was not a retreat, but an advance. "At night- 
fall," says General Boynton, "the army advanced to 
Chattanooga. The Army of the Cumberland was on its 
way to Chattanooga, the city it set out to capture. 
Every foot of it [the march] was a march in advance 
and not retreat." History will surely ask how this 
retrograde movement into the trenches at Chattanooga 
can fairly be considered an advance, the object of which 
was "to capture" the city, when that city had been 
evacuated by Bragg and occupied by Eosecrans ten 
days before; when it was held by the Union forces 
already ; and when that city was then, and had been for 
many days, the base of Union supplies and operations. 
General Boynton ignores the dominating fact that before 
the battle the faces of the Union army were toward 
Atlanta and their backs were upon Chattanooga. The 
battle induced Eosecrans to " about face " and go in the 
opposite direction. The same reasoning as that em- 
ployed by General Boynton would give to McClellan 
the victory in the seven days' battles around Eichmond ; 
for he, too, had beaten back the Confederates at certain 
points, and had escaped with his army to the cover of 
his gunboats at Harrison's Landing. From like premises 
the Confederates might claim a victory for Lee at Gettys- 
burg, and that his movement to the rear was an advance. 
General Pope might in like manner claim that the rout 
at second Manassas was a victory, and his retreat to 
Washington an advance which saved the Capitol. To 
my thought, such victories are similar to that achieved by 


the doctor who was asked : " Well, doctor, how is the 
mother and the new baby?" " They are both dead," re- 
plied the doctor ; ".but I have saved the old man." The 
advance on Atlanta was checked; Chickamauga was 
lost ; but, like the doctor's old man, Chattanooga was 
saved. General Boynton is too sensitive in this matter. 
All great commanders in modern times, the most con- 
summate and successful, have had their reverses. Gen- 
eral Rosecrans had unfortunate opposition at Washing- 
ton, and his record as commander under such conditions 
is brilliant enough to take the sting out of his defeat at 
Chickamauga. His ability as strategist, his skill in ma- 
noeuvre, and his vigor in delivering battle are universally 
recognized. The high court of history will render its ver- 
dict in accordance with the facts. These facts are simple 
and indisputable. First, Bragg threw his army across 
Rosecrans's front, checked his advance, and forced him to 
take position on the north bank of the Chickamauga. 
Second, Bragg assailed Rosecrans in his chosen strong- 
hold, drove him from the entire field, and held it in 
unchallenged possession. Third, at the end of the two 
days' battle, which in courage and carnage has scarcely 
a parallel, as the two wings of the Confederate army 
met on the field, their battle-flags waved triumphantly 
above every gory acre of it; and their ringing shouts 
rolled through Chickamauga's forests and rose to heaven, 
a mighty anthem of praise and gratitude to God for the 



Why General Bragg did not pursue Rosecrans after Chickamauga— 
Comparison of the Confederates at Missionary Ridge with the Greeks 
at Marathon— The Battle above the Clouds— Heroic advance by 
Walthall's Mississippians — General Grant's timely arrival with rein- 
forcements— The way opened to Atlanta. 

GENERAL LEE was not a believer in the infallibility 
of newspapers as arbiters of military movements. 
With full appreciation of their enormous power and 
vital agency in arousing, guiding, and ennobling 
public sentiment, his experience with them as military 
critics of his early campaigns in the West Virginia 
mountains had led him to question the wisdom of some 
of their suggestions. In a letter to Mrs. Lee he once 
wrote, in half-serious, half- jocular strain, that he had 
been reading the papers, and that he would be glad if 
they had entire control and could fix matters to suit 
themselves, adding, "General Floyd has three editors 
on his staff, and I hope something may be done to 
please them." 

General Bragg had been subjected to a somewhat 
similar fire from the rear for not following General 
Rosecrans, after the battle of Chickamauga, and driving 
him into the river or across it. That he did not do so, 
and thus make the battle of Missionary Ridge impossi- 
ble and save his army from its crushing defeat there, 
was a disappointment not only to the watchful and ex- 



pectant press, but to the Southern people, and to some 
of the leaders who fought under him at Chickamauga. 
A calm review of the situation, and the facts as they 
existed at the time, will demonstrate, I think, that his 
failure to follow and assault General Rosecrans in his 
strong works at Chattanooga was not only pardonable, 
but prudent and wise. The Confederate victory at 
Chickamauga, which was the most conspicuous antecedent 
of Missionary Ridge, was achieved after two days of 
desperate fighting and at tremendous cost. "While the 
•Confederates had inflicted heavy losses upon the Union 
•army, they had also suffered heavy losses. Of the thirty- 
three thousand dead and wounded, practically one half 
wore gray uniforms. For every Union regiment broken 
and driven in disorder from the field, there was a Con- 
federate regiment decimated and shattered in front of 
the breastworks. The final retreat of the Union army 
was immediately preceded by successful repulses and 
•countercharges, and by the most determined stand 
against the desperate and repeated Confederate assaults 
on Snodgrass Hill. General Bragg's right wing had 
been partially shattered in front of the Union field work? 
in the woods at Chickamauga, and his left wing held in 
check till near nightfall at Snodgrass Hill. It seems to 
me, therefore, that these facts constitute almost a mathe- 
matical demonstration — at least a moral assurance — that 
his army must have failed in an immediate march across 
the open plain through the network of wire spread for 
Confederate feet, in the face of wide-sweeping Union 
artillery, and against the infinitely stronger works at 
Chattanooga. In whatever other respects General 
Bragg may be regarded by his critics as worthy of 
blame, it seems manifestly unfair to charge that he 
blundered in not pursuing Rosecrans after Chicka- 
mauga. Far more just would be criticisms of General 
McClellan for his refusal to renew the attack in the 


open after Sharpsburg (Aiitietam), or of General Meade 
for not accepting the gauge of battle tendered him by 
Lee after the repulse of Gettysburg ; or of General Lee 
himself for not pressing Burnside after Fredericksburg, 
Hooker after Chancellorsville, and Pope after the rout at 
second Manassas. 

These reflections are submitted in the interest of truth 
and in justice to General Bragg's memory. They are 
submitted after the most patient and painstaking in- 
vestigation, and I must confess that they are in direct 
conflict with the impressions I had myself received and 
the opinions which I entertained before investigation. 

One other remark as to General Bragg's halt after the 
Confederate victory at Chickamauga. His beleaguering 
of the Union army for a whole month in its stronghold 
at Chattanooga is by no means conclusive evidence that 
he blundered in his failure to immediately assault General 
Rosecrans in his intrenchments. While admitting that, 
however shattered the ranks of the victor, the ranks of 
the beaten army are always in still worse condition, it 
must be remembered that assaults against breastworks, 
as a rule, are most expensive operations. Pemberton 
had been beaten in a series of engagements before he 
was driven into his works at Vicksburg; yet with his 
small force he successfully repelled for months every as- 
sault made upon those breastworks by General Grant. 
General Lee's hitherto victorious veterans recoiled before 
the natural battlements of the Round Tops and Cemetery 
Ridge at Gettysburg. On June 27, 1864, General 
Sherman assaulted with tremendous power the strong 
position held by General Joseph E. Johnston's retreating 
army ; but General Sherman's loss was nearly ten for 
every Confederate killed or wounded. The experience 
of General Nathaniel P. Banks in his assault upon the 
Confederate forces behind their breastworks at Port 
Hudson furnishes possibly a still more convincing proof 


of this truth. Page after page of similar illustrations 
might be taken from the records of our Civil War. It 
may be true that Chickamauga had brought temporary 
demoralization to portions of Rosecrans's army ; it may 
be true that General Grant did say to General Sherman 
at Chattanooga, " The men of Thomas's army have been 
so demoralized by the battle of Chickamauga that I fear 
they cannot be got out of their trenches to assume the 
offensive." But when he witnessed their superb assault 
upon Missionary Ridge he must have changed his opin- 
ion. It may be true — it is true — that had General Bragg 
assailed the Union army after Chickamauga, he would 
have had the advantage of the momentum and ardor 
imparted to a column in a charge; but he would also 
have been compelled to overcome the feeling of security 
imparted to troops protected by heavy breastworks 
and the increased effectiveness of their fire. General 
Longstreet assailed the breastworks at Knoxville after 
the Chickamauga battle ; but his superb battalions were 
powerless before them. 

General Bragg's mistake, therefore, it seems to me, 
was not his decision to besiege rather than assault the 
Union army in Chattanooga, but it was the weakening 
of his lines by detaching for other service such large 
bodies as to reduce his army to a mere skeleton of its 
former strength. While Bragg was reducing his troops 
to an estimated force of about 25,000 men by sending 
off Longstreet and Buckner and the Confederate cavalry, 
General Grant, who had displaced Rosecrans and as- 
sumed command at Chattanooga, was increasing his 
army in and around that city to 100,000 or more. By 
his official report it seems that after the arrival of his 
two corps from the East and General Sherman's army 
from the West, he had on the 25th of November, when 
the advance was ordered, about 86,000 men, armed and 
equipped, ready for the assault. I recall no instance in 


the history of our war, and few in any other war, where, 
on so contracted a field, was marshalled for battle so 
gigantic and puissant an army. 

More than two thousand years ago occurred a scene 
which Missionary Ridge recalls. On the plains of Mar- 
athon, Datis, under the orders of King Darius, assembled 
his army of Persian warriors, whose number did not 
differ widely from those commanded at Chattanooga by 
General Grant. Confronting Datis was the little army 
of the Greeks under Miltiades, the great Athenian, in 
whose veins ran the blood of Hercules. Posted along 
the Attican range of mountains, this little army of Athe- 
nians looked down upon the vast hosts assembled against 
them on the Marathon plain below as Bragg's small 
force of Confederates stood on Missionary Ridge and the 
slopes of Lookout Mountain, contemplating the magnifi- 
cent but appalling panorama of Grant's overwhelming 
legions moving from their works and wheeling into 
lines of battle. The two scenes — the one at Marathon, 
the other at Chattanooga — present other strikingly sim- 
ilar features. The ground on which the respective armies 
under Datis and Grant were assembled bore a close re- 
semblance the one to the other. Crescent-shaped Mara- 
thon, washed by the winding bay, had its counterpart in 
that crescent formed at Chattanooga by the Tennessee 
as it flows around the city. 

The Greeks at Marathon and the Confederates at 
Missionary Ridge were each moved by a kindred im- 
pulse of self-defence. The Athenian Republicans under 
Miltiades, as they stood upon the bordering hills around 
Marathon, realized that the spirits of departed Grecian 
heroes were hovering above them, and resolved not to 
survive the loss of Athenian freedom or the enslave- 
ment of their people. They were the foremost men of 
their time. The mountain on which they stood was 
sacred ground ; every stone and scene was an inspiration. 


The American Republicans of Southern birth and 
training who stood with Bragg on Missionary Ridge 
were imbued with an ardor none the less strong and 
sacred. At this point, however, appear vast contrasts. 
The Grecian commander was to fight Persians: the 
Southern leader was to meet Americans. The hireling 
hordes which swarmed on the plains of Marathon served 
not from choice but from compulsion. The Persian 
array was a vast conglomeration of incohesive elements, 
imposing in aspect but weak in determined battle : the 
army which Bragg was to meet was composed of patri- 
otic volunteers, every man impelled by a thorough 
belief in the righteousness of his cause. At Marathon 
it was the resolute, compact, and self-sacrificing Grecian 
phalanxes against the uncertain, disjointed, and self- 
seeking hordes of Persian plunderers. It was heroes 
against hirelings, the glorious sons of Athenian free- 
dom against the submissive serfs of triumphant wrong 
and of kingly power. At Missionary Ridge it was 
patriot against patriot, inherited beliefs against inher- 
ited beliefs, liberty as embodied in the sovereignty of the 
States against liberty as embodied in the perpetuity of 
the Union. The Persians represented organized vin- 
dictiveness. The haughty monarch Darius had resolved 
to wreak his vengeance on the free people of Athens. 
In his besotted pride and blasphemy, he implored the 
gods to give him strength to punish these freemen of 
Greece. His servants were instructed constantly to 
repeat to him as he gorged himself with costly viands, 
" Sire, remember the Athenians ! " The army and 
commanders whom he sent to Marathon were fit agents 
for the execution of so diabolical a purpose. Numbers, 
therefore, did not count for much in the conflict with 
such men as Miltiades led against them. The Federals 
and Confederates, however, who met each other at 
Missionary Ridge, were of the same race and of kindred 


impulse. They gathered their strength and ardor from 
the memories and example of the same rebelling fathers. 
In such a contest numbers did tell, and gave to General 
Grant the moral assurance of victory even before the 
battle was joined. 

The Union assault on Missionary Ridge was heralded 
by the " Battle above the Clouds, " as the fight on Lookout 
Mountain is called. Important events had transpired 
which precipitated that conflict amidst the heavy vapors 
around Lookout Mountain. These events rendered the 
capture of that citadel of strength possible, if not easy. 
Nearly 10,000 Federals under General Hooker had forced 
a passage of the Tennessee below Lookout Point, driv- 
ing back the two Confederate regiments, numbering 
about 1000 men, commanded by the gallant Colonel 
Oates, of Alabama, who fell severely wounded while 
making a most stubborn resistance. The night battle at 
Wauhatchie had also been fought and the small Confed- 
erate force had been defeated. It was in this fire in the 
darkness that the brave little Billy Bethune of Georgia 
made his debut as a soldier and his exit on an Irishman's 
shoulder. The Irishman who was carrying Billy off the 
field was asked by his major, " Who is that you are car- 
rying to the rear?" "Billy Bethune, sir." "Is he 
wounded 1 " " Yis, sir ; he 's shot in the back, sir." This 
was more than Billy could endure, and he shouted his 
indignant answer to the Irishman, " Major, he 's an in- 
fernal liar; I am shot across the back, sir." 

The Hon. John Russell Young, in his book " Around 
the World with General Grant," states that this great 
Union general once said : " The battle of Lookout 
Mountain (the ' Battle above the Clouds ') is one of the 
romances of the war. There was no such battle, and no 
action worthy to be called a battle, on Lookout Mountain. 
It is all poetry." 


I shall not enter into the controversy as to the rank 
which should be assigned to that brief but noted conflict. 
Whatever may be its proper designation, it was a most 
creditable affair to both sides. Reared among the 
mountains, I can readily appreciate the peculiar atmos- 
pheric conditions and the impressive character of the 
scenes which met those contending forces on the rugged 
mountain-side. Many times in my boyhood I have 
stood upon those mountain-tops in the clear sunlight, 
while below were gathered dense fogs and mists, some- 
times following the winding courses of the streams, 
often covering the valleys like a vast sea and obscuring 
them from view. As stated in another chapter, General 
Hooker was probably not apprised of the fact that there 
confronted him in the forenoon only Walthall's Missis- 
sippians, — less than 1500 men against 10,000, — and in the 
afternoon only the shattered remnants of this brave 
little brigade, joined by three regiments of Pettus and 
the small brigade of Moore, in all probably not more 
than 2500 men. The conception of moving upon an un- 
known force located in such a stronghold was bold and 
most creditable to the high soldierly qualities of General 
Hooker and the gallant men who moved at his com- 
mand through the fogs and up the steeps, where gorges 
and boulders and jutting cliffs made almost as formid- 
able barriers as those which opposed the American sol- 
diers at Chapultepec. General Walthall, who commanded 
the little band of resisting Confederates, was compelled 
to stretch them out along the base and up the sides of 
the mountain until his command covered a front so long 
as to reduce it practically to a line of skirmishers. Far 
beyond the west flank of this attenuated line, Hooker's 
plan of battle for this unique field had placed a heavy 
force under enterprising and daring leaders. Up the 
mountain-side the troops worked their way, clutching 
bushes and the branches of trees in order to lift them- 


selves over the rugged ledges, firing as they rose, cap- 
turing small bodies here and there, and driving back the 
stubborn little band of Confederates. The Union lines 
in front and on Walthall's right threatened to make 
prisoners of his men, who retreated from ledge to ledge, 
pouring their fire into Hooker's troops and directing 
their aim only at the flashes of the Union rifles as they 
gleamed through the dense fog. 

The resistance of Walthall's Mississippians was pro- 
nounced by the distinguished Union leader, General 
George H. Thomas, " obstinate " ; by General Bragg, the 
Confederate commander-in-chief, as " desperate," and by 
the brave Steedman, of the Union army,'as " sublimely 
heroic." More emphatic than all of these well-merited 
tributes was the eloquent fact that but 600 were left of 
the 1500 carried into the fight. 

General Grant's arrival at Chattanooga with his rein- 
forcements was as timely a relief for Thomas and his 
troops as the coming of Buell's forces had previously 
been for the succor of General Grant's army at Pittsburg 
Landing or Shiloh. 

The interchange of courtesies which became so com- 
mon during the war at no time interfered with the stern 
demands of duty. As General Manderson, one of the 
most gallant officers of the Union army, rode near the 
Confederate picket-lines in front of Chattanooga, he 
received a salutation almost as courteous as they would 
have given to one of their Confederate generals; yet 
they were ready to empty their deadly rifles into the 
bosoms of his troops when they moved in battle array 
against them. General Manderson himself in these 
words gives account of the Confederate courtesy shown 
him: "A feeling of amity, almost fraternization, had 
existed between the picket-lines in front of Wood's 
division for many days. In the early morning of that 
day, being in charge of the left of our picket-line 


[Union], I received a turnout and salute from the Con- 
federate reserve as I rode the line." This was on the 
very day of the great battle. On the river below, the 
Confederates would gladly have divided their own 
meagre rations with any individual soldier in Thomas's 
army, yet they were attempting to shoot down every 
team and sink every boat which sought to bring the 
needed supplies to the beleaguered and hungry com- 
mands suffering in the city. 

Major Nelson of Indiana, who, like all truly brave 
soldiers, has exhibited in peace the same high qualities 
which distinguished him in war, gave me the following 
incident, which occurred at another point, and admirably 
illustrates the spirit of the best men in the two armies. 
Major Nelson was himself in command of the Union 
picket-lines. The Confederate officer who stood at night 
in the opposing lines near him called out : 

" Hello there, Yank ! Have you got any coffee over 
there t " 

" Yes," replied Major Nelson. " Come over and get 

" We would like to come, but there are fourteen of us 
on this post." 

"All right, Johnny; bring them all along. We'll 
divide with you. Come over, boys, and get your coffee." 

The Johnnies accepted. At two o'clock in the morn- 
ing they sat down in the trenches with the boys in 
blue, and told war jokes on each other while drinking 
their coffee together. Looking at his watch, the major 

" It 's time for you Johnnies to get away from 
here. The inspector will be along soon, and he will put 
every one of you in prison, and me, too, if he catches us 
at this business." 

The Confederates at once sprang to their feet and left 
with this salutation : 


" Good night, Yanks ; we are greatly obliged to you. 
We have had a nice visit and enjoyed your coffee very 
much. We hope you will get a good rest to-night ; we 
are going to give you hell to-morrow." 

When General Grant arrived at Chattanooga and had 
surveyed the field, he sent an order to General Sherman, 
who was rebuilding the Memphis and Charleston Rail- 
road, to stop this work and move his army rapidly 
eastward toward Chattanooga. This order, it is said, was 
carried in a canoe down the Tennessee River, over Muscle 
Shoals, and for a distance of probably two hundred miles. 
The daring soldier who bore it was Corporal Pike, a 
noted scout. On the very day of Sherman's crossing 
the Tennessee at Chattanooga, Grant ordered the ad- 
vance upon Missionary Ridge. To this ridge the Con- 
federates had been withdrawn from their eyry on Point 
Lookout, and the forces of Hooker swept down upon 
Bragg's left flank. Against Bragg's other flank General 
Sherman's army was concentrated. In General Grant's 
admirable plan of the battle, the movement by Hooker 
against the Confederate left, and the attack by Thomas 
upon its centre, were intended as mere demonstrations, 
while the heavy columns of Sherman were to turn its 
right flank and completely envelop it, thus making the 
capture of the bulk of Bragg's small army probable, or 
rendering his retreat extremely hazardous. But, as is 
often the case in battle, the unexpected transpired. 
Across the line of Sherman's advance, from which the 
greatest results were expected, was a railroad cut and 
tunnel from which the Confederates suddenly rushed 
upon the head of the Union column, checking, breaking, 
and routing it. In the meanwhile, Grant, who stood on 
Orchard Knob opposite the Confederate centre, had 
ordered Thomas to move at a given signal and seize the 
Confederate rifle-pits at the base of the ridge. As the 
six shots from Orchard Knob sounded the signal for the 


advance, the blue line of Thomas swept across the plain 
and into the rifle-pits, making prisoners of many of the 
advanced Confederate skirmishers. This movement, as 
above stated, like Hooker's upon Lookout Mountain on 
the previous day, was intended by General Grant only 
as a " demonstration," the purpose being only to take 
the rifle-pits as a diversion to aid Sherman in his attack 
upon Bragg's right. The seasoned veterans of Thomas, 
however, were wiser in this instance, or at least bolder, 
than the generals. Was it a misapprehension of orders, 
was it recklessness, or was it the habit acquired in battle 
of never halting when ordered forward under fire until 
their lines were broken against the solid fronts of oppos- 
ing forces? General Grant was amazed when he saw 
those lines pass the rifle-pits in furious charge toward 
the crest of Missionary Ridge. Both Thomas and Gran- 
ger denied having given the order for such a movement. 
It was, however, too late to halt the troops; and most 
fortunate was it for the Union army that the movement 
could not be recalled. Those brave men, without orders, 
mounted to the summit of Missionary Ridge, leaped into 
Bragg's intrenchments, piercing his lines in the centre, 
doubling them to the right and left, and forcing the front 
in confusion to the rear. The capture of 6000 Southern 
prisoners, several pieces of artillery, and many thousand 
stands of small arms was an irreparable loss to the Con- 
federacy. In its exhausted condition these could not be 
replaced by new levies and new guns. Infinitely greater, 
however, was the loss of the prestige which Bragg's army 
had gained by the brilliant victory at Chickamauga just 
two months and five days before. Still greater was the 
loss which Missionary Ridge inflicted upon the Southern 
cause by opening the way to Atlanta. The bold and 
successful stand made after Missionary Ridge by Bragg's 
forces at Ringgold was but a temporary check to the 
advance of the Union forces. 


As Hooker's forces moved from the mountain-top up 
Bragg's left, a Confederate officer, on his Kentucky 
thoroughbred, galloped into this portion of the Union 
line. It was young Breckinridge, looking for his father, 
General John C. Breckinridge, who was commanding a 
division of Confederates. Instead of his father, he found 
General James A. Williamson commanding Union troops. 
He lost his Kentucky racer and exchanged his staff 
position for that of prisoner of war. 

General Bragg, with patriotic purpose, and with the 
hope that some other commander might serve the cause 
more efficiently, asked to be relieved from the command 
of the army, and his request was granted. General 
Rosecrans had perhaps a still more pathetic fate. He 
had inaugurated and conducted against General Bragg 
during the summer a strategic campaign, pronounced by 
General Meigs "the greatest operation in our war." 
During the progress of this campaign General George H. 
Thomas and the corps commanders of the Union army 
seemed unanimous and enthusiastic in the commendation 
and support of it. Yet after its culmination General 
Rosecrans was removed from the command of his army. 
From the standpoint of unbiassed criticism the future 
historian will probably have some trouble in finding 
sufficient reasons for this removal. It is not my province 
to participate in the discussion of this interesting ques- 
tion. As a soldier, however, who fought on the Southern 
side, and who has studied with much interest this cam- 
paign of General Rosecrans, I wish to leave upon record 
two or three inquiries which it seems to me history must 
necessarily make. 

First, how was it possible for the transfer of Long- 
street's troops from Lee to Bragg to have escaped the 
attention of Secretary Stanton or General Halleck ? This 
movement was reported to General Rosecrans by Gen- 
eral Peck of the Union army stationed in North Carolina. 


It was suggested as probable by the Hon. Murat Hal- 
stead in the columns of his paper. General H. V. Boyn- 
ton states in the most positive terms that Colonel 
Jacques, of the Seventy-third Illinois, tried in vain for 
ten days to gain admittance in Washington to commu- 
nicate the fact of Longstreet's movements to Halleck 
and Stanton, and then, without accomplishing it, re- 
turned in time to fight with, his regiment at Chicka- 

Another question which history will probably ask is 
why no reinforcements were sent to the Union army 
while Rosecrans was in command and when Longstreet 
was moving to strengthen General Bragg, and yet after 
Rosecrans's removal immense reinforcements were sent, 
although both Longstreet and Buckner had then been 
detached from that immediate vicinity. 

The heavy concentration of Union forces at Chatta- 
nooga, and the consequent defeat of Bragg's army at 
Missionary Ridge, was a master stroke; but justice to 
General Rosecrans seems to demand the above reflec- 
tions. In the light of his previous strategic campaign 
and of his fight at Chickamauga, where, without rein- 
forcements, he so stubbornly resisted Bragg's assaults 
while both Longstreet and Buckner were present, history 
will surely ask : " What would General Rosecrans prob- 
ably have accomplished with his own army heavily reen- 
f orced, while Bragg's was reduced by the absence of both 
Longstreet's and Buckner's commands?" 

Missionary Ridge had added its quota of cloud to the 
Confederate firmament, and intensified the gloom of the 
succeeding winter. It had laid bare the Confederacy's 
heart to the glistening points of Union bayonets, and 
vastly increased the sufferings of the Confederate armies. 
Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Missionary Ridge ! Distinct de- 
feats to different armies in distant sections, they 
nevertheless constituted a common, a triune disaster 


to the Confederate cause. The great crevasses in 
the Mississippi's levees constitute one agency of ruin 
when they unite their floods and deluge the delta. 
So these breaks in the gray lines of defence con- 
stituted, I repeat, one common defeat to Southern 
arms. There is, however, this noteworthy defect 
in the completeness of the simile: The Mississippi 
levees could be rebuilt; the material for reconstruct- 
ing them was inexhaustible; and the waters would 
soon disappear .without any human effort to drive them 
back. The Confederacy's lines, on the contrary, could 
not be rebuilt. The material for reconstructing them 
was exhausted. The blue-crested flood which had broken 
those lines was not disappearing. The fountains which 
supplied it were exhaustless. It was still coming with 
an ever-increasing current, swelling higher and growing 
more resistless. This triune disaster was especially de- 
pressing to the people because it came like a blight upon 
their hopes which had been awakened by recent 
Confederate victories. The recoil of Lee's army from 
its furious impact against the blue barrier of Meade's 
lines at Gettysburg was the first break in the tide 
of its successes. Beginning with the marvellous panic 
and rout of McDowell's troops at Bull Run in 1861, 
there followed in almost unbroken succession wave 
after wave of Confederate triumph. The victory 
of Joseph E. Johnston over General McClellan at 
Seven Pines, or Fair Oaks ; the rapidly recurring vic- 
tories of Lee in the seven days' battles around Rich- 
mond over the same brilliant commander; the rout of 
General Pope's army at second Manassas, or second Bull 
Run ; the bloody disaster inflicted by Lee upon Burn- 
side's forces at Fredericksburg and upon Hooker's splen- 
did army at Chancellorsville, together with Stonewall 
Jackson's Napoleonic campaign in the Valley of Virginia, 
had constituted a chain of Confederate successes with 


scarcely a broken link. Even at Sharpsburg, or Antietam, 
in 1862, the result was of so indecisive a character as to 
leave that battle among those that are in dispute. The 
Federals claim it as a Union victory on the ground that 
Lee finally abandoned the field to McClellan. The Con- 
federates place it among the drawn battles of the war, 
and base their claim on these facts : that McClellan was 
the aggressor, and declined to renew his efforts, although 
the Confederates invited him to do so by flying their 
flags in his front during the whole of the» following day ; 
that although the battle-tide swayed to and fro, with 
alternate onsets and recoils on the different hotly con- 
tested portions of the field, yet in the main the Federal 
assaults were successfully repelled ; that McClellan failed 
to drive Lee from his general line, and that whatever ad- 
vance he made against Lee was more than counterbal- 
anced by Jackson's capture of the entire Union forces 
which held the left of the Union army at Harper's Ferry. 



In camp near Clark's Mountain— Religious awakening— Revival services 
throughout the camps— General Lee's interest in the movement — 
Southern women at work— Extracts from General Lee's letters to his 
wife — Influence of religion on the soldiers' character. 

THE winter of 1863-64 on the banks of the Rapidan 
was passed in preparation by both armies for that 
wrestle of giants which was to begin in May in the Wil- 
derness and end at Appomattox in the following April. 

My camp and quarters were near Clark's Mountain, 
from the top of which General Lee so often surveyed 
with his glasses the white-tented city of the Union army 
spread out before us on the undulating plain below. A 
more peaceful scene could scarcely be conceived than 
that which broke upon our view day after day as the 
rays of the morning sun fell upon the quiet, wide-spread- 
ing Union camp, with its thousands of smoke columns 
rising like miniature geysers, its fluttering flags mark- 
ing, at regular intervals, the different divisions, its still- 
ness unbroken save by an occasional drum-beat and 
the clear ringing notes of bugles sounding the familiar 

On the southern side of the Rapidan the scenes were, 
if possible, still less warlike. In every Confederate camp 
chaplains and visiting ministers erected religious altars, 
around which the ragged soldiers knelt and worshipped 
the Heavenly Father into whose keeping they committed 



themselves and their cause, and through whose all- wise 
guidance they expected ultimate victory. The religious 
revivals that ensued form a most remarkable and im- 
pressive chapter of war history. Not only on the Sab- 
bath day, but during the week, night after night for long 
periods, these services continued, increasing in attend- 
ance and interest until they brought under religious 
influence the great body of the army. Along the moun- 
tain-sides and in the forests, where the Southern camps 
were pitched, the rocks and woods rang with appeals for 
holiness and consecration, with praises for past mercies 
and earnest prayers for future protection and deliver- 
ance. Thousands of these brave followers of Southern 
banners became consistent and devoted soldiers of the 
cross. General Lee, who was a deeply pious man, mani- 
fested a constant and profound interest in the progress 
of this religious work among his soldiers. He usually 
attended his own church when services were held there, 
but his interest was confined to no particular denomina- 
tion. He encouraged all and helped all. 

Back of the army on the farms, in the towns and cities, 
the fingers of Southern women were busy knitting socks 
and sewing seams of coarse trousers and gray jackets 
for the soldiers at the front. From Mrs. Lee and her 
daughters to the humblest country matrons and maidens, 
their busy needles were stitching, stitching, stitching, 
day and night. The anxious commander thanked them 
for their efforts to bring greater comfort to the cold feet 
and shivering limbs of his half-clad men. He wrote let- 
ters expressing appreciation of the bags of socks and 
shirts as they came in. He said that he could almost 
hear, in the stillness of the night, the needles click as 
they flew through the meshes. Every click was a prayer, 
every stitch a tear. His tributes were tender and con- 
stant to these glorious women for their labor and sacri- 
fices for Southern independence. His unselfish solicitude 


for his men was marked and unvarying. He sent to the 
suffering privates in the hospitals the delicacies con- 
tributed for his personal use from the meagre stores of 
those who were anxious about his health. If a handful 
of real coffee came to him, it went in the same direction, 
while he cheerfully drank from his tin cup the wretched 
substitute made from parched corn or beans. He was 
the idolized commander of his army and at the same 
time the sympathizing brother of his men. 

General Fitzhugh Lee, the brilliant nephew of the 
great chieftain, gives extracts from his private letters, 
some of which I insert in this connection because they 
illustrate the character of Robert E. Lee as a man. These 
excerpts are of greater value because they are taken from 
letters addressed to Mrs. Lee and meant for her eyes 

In 1861, from West Virginia, General Lee concluded 
a letter to Mrs. Lee in these words : 

I travelled from Staunton on horseback. A part of the road 
I traveled over in the summer of 1840 on my return from St. 
Louis after bringing you home. If any one had told me that 
the next time I travelled that road would have been on my pres- 
ent errand I should have supposed him insane. I enjoyed the 
mountains as I rode along. The valleys are peaceful, the 
scenery beautiful. What a glorious world Almighty God has 
given us ! How thankless and ungrateful we are ! 

Denied the privilege of being with his family at the 
Christmas reunion, he wrote : 

I shall pray the great God to shower His blessings upon you 
and unite you all in His courts above. . . . Oh, that I were more 
worthy and more thankful for all that he has done and continues 
to do for me ! 

From the southern coast in February, 1862, he wrote 
Mrs. Lee : 


My constant prayer is to the Giver of all victory. . . . The 
contest must be long and the whole country has to go through 
much suffering. It is necessary we should be more humble, 
less boastful, less selfish, and more devoted to right and justice 
to all the world. . . . God, I hope, will shield us and give us 

After his brilliant victory over McClellan in the seven 
days' battles around Richmond, he wrote Mrs. Lee : 

I am filled with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for all the 
mercies he has extended to us. Our success has not been as 
complete as we could desire, but God knows what is best for us. 

If Wellington, the Iron Duke, ever said, as is reported : 
" A man of fine Christian sensibilities is totally unfit for 
the position of a soldier," he must have had in contem- 
plation the mere soldier of fortune — the professional 
soldier, and not the class of men who fight only because 
duty compels them to fight. The lofty Christian char- 
acter, the simple, earnest Christian faith, the consistent, 
unostentatious Christian life and humility of spirit of 
both Lee and Jackson, furnish an eloquent and crushing 
rebuke to Wellington's suggestions. Jackson fought 
while praying and prayed while planning. Lee's heart 
was full of supplication in battle, while his lips were 
silent. In sunshine and in storm, in victory and in defeat, 
his heart turned to Grod. Chapter after chapter might 
be filled with these extracts from his private letters and 
with accounts of acts consistent with his letters, illus- 
trating the fact that great soldiers may be the tenderest 
men and the truest Christian believers. The self-denial, 
the stainless manhood, the unfaltering faith in the sav- 
ing truths of the Bible, the enormous will power, sub- 
missive as a child to God's will, — the roundness and 
completeness of such a life, should be a model and an 
inspiration to the young men of our whole country. 


Christian men and women, indeed all who truly love 
this country and realize how essential to its permanence 
and freedom is the character of its citizenship, must find 
no little comfort in the facts recorded in the last few 
paragraphs. The reward promised by mythology to the 
brave who fell in battle was a heaven, not of purity and 
peace, but of continued combat with their foes and a life 
of eternal revelry. Such a religion could only degrade 
the soldiers who fought and increase the depravity of 
the people. It was a religion of hate, of vindictiveness, 
of debauchery. The religious revivals which occurred 
in the Southern camps, on the contrary, while banishing 
from the heart all unworthy passions, prepared the sol- 
diers for more heroic endurance; lifted them, in a 
measure, above their sufferings; nerved them for the 
coming battles ; exalted them to a higher conception of 
duty; imbued them with a spirit of more cheerful sub- 
mission to the decrees of Providence; sustained them 
with a calmer and nobler courage; and rendered them 
not insensible to danger, but superior to it. The life 
we now live is not the only life; what we call death 
is not an eternal sleep; the soldier's grave is not 
an everlasting prison, but the gateway to an endless life 
beyond : and this belief in immortality should be culti- 
vated in armies, because of the potent influence it must 
exert in developing the best characteristics of the soldier. 
Aside from any regard for the purely spiritual welfare 
of the men, the most enlightened nations of Europe 
have shown a commendable worldly wisdom in making 
religious literature an important part of an army's equip- 

No one, who calmly and fairly considers the condi- 
tions which surrounded the soldiers of the Confederate 
armies when they were disbanded and the manner in 
which these men met those conditions, can doubt that 
their profound religious convictions, which were deep- 


ened in the camps, had a potent influence upon their 
conduct in the trying years which followed the war. 
Reared under a government of their own choosing, 
born and bred under laws, State and federal, enacted 
by their own representatives, habituated for four years 
to the watchful eyes and guarding bayonets of army 
sentinels, accustomed to the restraints of the most rigid 
regulations, they found themselves at the close of the war 
suddenly confronted by conditions radically, totally 
changed. Their State governments were overthrown ; 
State laws were in abeyance ; of chosen representatives 
they had none. Sheriffs, other officers of the court, and 
the courts themselves were gone. Penniless and home- 
less as thousands of them were, with the whole financial 
system in their States obliterated, the whole system of 
labor revolutionized, without a dollar or the possibility 
of borrowing, they went bravely and uncomplainingly 
to work. They did not rob, they did not steal, they did 
not beg, they did not murmur at their fate. With all 
the restraints to which they had been subjected, both 
as citizens and soldiers, not only relaxed but entirely 
removed, they kept the peace, lived soberly and circum- 
spectly, each ready to lend a helping hand to maimed 
and helpless comrades or to fight again for the enforce- 
ment of law or in defence of the restored Republic. 
Who will deny that these facts, which are in no partic- 
ular and in no degree over-stated, but fall far short of 
the reality, demonstrate the power of religious convic- 
tions over the conduct of these disbanded soldiers 
transformed into citizens under conditions so changed, 
so trying, so desperate? 



Beginning of the long fight between Grant and Lee— Grant crosses the 
Rapidan — First contact of the two armies — Ewell's repulse — A 
rapid countercharge— A strange predicament— The Union centre 
broken— Unprecedented movement which saved the Confederate 

LEE and Grant, the foremost leaders of the opposing 
armies, were now to begin a campaign which was 
to be practically a continuous battle for eleven months. 
Grant had come from his campaigns in the Southwest 
with the laurels of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, 
and Missionary Ridge on his brow. Lee stood before 
him with a record as military executioner unrivalled by 
that of any warrior of modern times. He had, at 
astoundingly short intervals and with unvarying regu- 
larity, decapitated or caused the official " taking off " of 
the five previously selected commanders-in-chief of the 
great army which confronted him. 

A more beautiful day never dawned on Clark's Moun- 
tain and the valley of the Rapidan than May 5, 1864. 
There was not a cloud in the sky, and the broad expanse 
of meadow-lands on the north side of the little river and 
the steep wooded hills on the other seemed " apparelled 
in celestial light v as the sun rose upon them. At an 
early hour, however, the enchantment of the scene was 
rudely broken by bugles and kettledrums calling Lee's 
veterans to strike tents and "fall into line." The ad- 



vent of spring brought intense relief to the thinly clad 
and poorly fed Confederates. The Army of Northern Vir- 
ginia had suffered so much during the preceding winter 
that there was general rejoicing at its close, although 
every man in that army knew that it meant the opening 
of another campaign and the coming of Grant's thor- 
oughly equipped and stalwart corps. The reports of 
General Lee's scouts were scarcely necessary to our 
appreciation of the fact that the odds against us were 
constantly and rapidly increasing : for from the high- 
land which bordered the southern banks of the Rapidan 
one could almost estimate the numbers that were being 
added to Grant's ranks by the growth of the city of 
tents spreading out in full view below. The Confeder- 
ates were profoundly impressed by the situation, but 
they rejected as utterly unworthy of a Christian sol- 
diery the doctrine that Providence was on the side of 
the heaviest guns and most numerous battalions. To 
an unshaken confidence in their great leader and in 
each other there had been added during the remarkable 
religious revivals to which I have referred a spiritual 
vitality which greatly increased among Lee's soldiers the 
spirit of self-sacrifice and of consecration. Committing 
themselves and their cause to God, with honest and 
fervent prayers for His protection and guidance, they 
hopefully and calmly awaited the results of the coming 

On the morning of May 4, 1864, shortly after mid- 
night, General Grant began the movement which was 
soon to break the long silence of that vast and dense 
woodland by the roaring tumult of battle. This advance 
by General Grant inaugurated the seventh act in the 
" On to Richmond " drama played by the armies of the 
Union. The first advance, led by General McDowell, 
had been repelled by Beauregard and Johnston at Bull 
Run ; the next five, under the leadership respectively of 


McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade, had 
been repelled by Lee. He had not only defeated these 
noted leaders, but caused their removal from command 
of the Union army. 

Crossing the Rapidan with but little resistance, Gen- 
eral Grant spent the 4th of May in placing his army in 
position. Pushing toward Richmond the head of his 
column, which was to form the left of his battle line, in 
order to throw himself, if possible, between Lee and the 
Confederate capital, General Grant promptly faced his 
army in the direction from which Lee must necessarily 
approach and moved to the front as rapidly as the 
tangled wilderness would permit. Lee, in the meantime, 
was hurrying his columns along the narrow roads and 
throwing out skirmish-lines, backed by such troops as 
he could bring forward quickly in order to check 
Grant's advance and to ascertain whether the heaviest 
assault was to be made upon the Confederate centre or 
upon the right or left flank. Field-glasses and scouts 
and cavalry were equally and almost wholly useless in 
that dense woodland. The tangle of underbrush and 
curtain of green leaves enabled General Grant to con- 
centrate his forces at any point, while their movements 
were entirely concealed. Overlapping the Confederate 
lines on both flanks, he lost no time in pushing to the 
front with characteristic vigor. 

My command brought up the rear of the extreme left 
of Lee's line, which was led by Ewell's corps. Long be- 
fore I reached the point of collision, the steady roll of 
small arms left no doubt as to the character of the 
conflict in our front. Despatching staff officers to the 
rear to close up the ranks in compact column, so as to 
be ready for any emergency, we hurried with quickened 
step toward the point of heaviest fighting. Alternate 
confidence and apprehension were awakened as the 
shouts of one army or the other reached our ears. So 


distinct in character were these shouts that they were 
easily discernible. At one point the weird Confederate 
" yell " told us plainly that Ewell's men were advancing. 
At another the huzzas, in mighty concert, of the Union 
troops warned us that they had repelled the Confederate 
charge; and as these ominous huzzas grew in volume 
we knew that Grant's lines were moving forward. Just 
as the head of my column came within range of the 
whizzing Minies, the Confederate yells grew fainter, and 
at last ceased ; and the Union shout rose above the din 
of battle. I was already prepared by this infallible ad- 
monition for the sight of Ewell's shattered forces retreat- 
ing in disorder. The oft-repeated but spasmodic efforts 
of first one army and then the other to break through 
the opposing ranks had at last been ended by the sudden 
rush of Grant's compact veterans from the dense covert 
in such numbers that Ewell's attenuated lines were 
driven in confusion to the rear. These retreating divi- 
sions, like broken and receding waves, rolled back against 
the head of my column while we were still rapidly ad- 
vancing along the narrow road. The repulse had been 
so sudden and the confusion so great that practically no 
resistance was now being made to the Union advance; 
and the elated Federals were so near me that little time 
was left to bring my men from column into line in order 
to resist the movement or repel it by countercharge. 
At this moment of dire extremity I saw General Ewell, 
who was still a superb horseman, notwithstanding the 
loss of his leg, riding in furious gallop toward me, his 
thoroughbred charger bounding like a deer through the 
dense underbrush. With a quick jerk of his bridle-rein 
just as his wooden leg was about to come into unwelcome 
collision with my knee, he checked his horse and rapped 
out his few words with characteristic impetuosity. He 
did not stop to explain the situation ; there was no need 
of explanation. The disalignment, the confusion, the 


rapid retreat of our troops, and the raining of Union 
bullets as they whizzed and rattled through the scrub- 
oaks and pines, rendered explanations superfluous, even 
had there been time to make them. The rapid words he 
did utter were electric and charged with tremendous sig- 
nificance. "General Gordon, the fate of the day depends 
on you, sir," he said. " These men will save it, sir," I 
replied, more with the purpose of arousing the enthu- 
siasm of my men than with any well-defined idea as to 
how we were to save it. Quickly wheeling a single regi- 
ment into line, I ordered it forward in a countercharge, 
while I hurried the other troops into position. The sheer 
audacity and dash of that regimental charge checked, as 
I had hoped it would, the Union advance for a few mo- 
ments, giving me the essential time to throw the other 
troops across the Union front. Swiftly riding to the 
centre of my line, I gave in person the order : "Forward ! " 
With a deafening yell which must have been heard miles 
away, that glorious brigade rushed upon the hitherto 
advancing enemy, and by the shock of their furious on- 
set shattered into fragments all that portion of the com- 
pact Union line which confronted my troops. 

At that moment was presented one of the strangest 
conditions ever witnessed upon a battle-field. My com- 
mand covered only a small portion of the long lines in 
blue, and not a single regiment of those stalwart Federals 
yielded except those which had been struck by the 
Southern advance. On both sides of the swath cut by 
this sweep of the Confederate scythe, the steady veterans 
of Grant were unshaken and still poured their incessant 
volleys into the retreating Confederate ranks. My com- 
mand had cut its way through the Union centre, and at 
that moment it was in the remarkably strange position 
of being on identically the same general line with the 
enemy, the Confederates facing in one direction, the 
Federals in the other. Looking down that line from 


Grant's right toward his left, there would first have been 
seen a long stretch of blue uniforms, then a short stretch 
of gray, then another still longer of blue, in one contin- 
uous line. The situation was both unique and alarming. 
I know of no case like it in military history; nor has 
there come to my knowledge from military text-books 
or the accounts of the world's battles any precedent for 
the movement which extricated my command from its 
perilous environment and changed the threatened cap- 
ture or annihilation of my troops into victory. The solid 
and dotted portions of the line, here given, correctly rep- 
resent the position of my troops in relation to the Federals 
at this particular juncture : the Union forces are indi- 
cated by a solid line, the Confederates (my command) 
by a dotted line, and the arrows indicate the direction in 
which the forces were facing. 

It will be seen that further movement to Grant's rear 
was not to be considered ; for his unbroken lines on each 
side of me would promptly close up the gap which my 
men had cut through his centre, thus rendering the cap- 
ture of my entire command inevitable. To attempt to re- 
tire by the route by which we had advanced was almost, if 
not equally, as hazardous ; for those same unbroken and 
now unopposed ranks on each side of me, as soon as such 
retrograde movement began, would instantly rush from 
both directions upon my retreating command and quickly 
crush it. In such a crisis, when moments count for 
hours, when the fate of a command hangs upon instan- 
taneous decision, the responsibility of the commander is 
almost overwhelming; but the very extremity of the 


danger electrifies his brain to abnormal activity. In 
such peril he does more thinking in one second than he 
would ordinarily do in a day. No man ever realized 
more fully than I did at that dreadful moment the truth 
of the adage: "Necessity is the mother of invention." 
As soon as my troops had broken through the Union 
ranks, I directed my staff to halt the command ; and be- 
fore the Union veterans could recover from the shock, 
my regiments were moving at double-quick from the 
centre into file right and left, thus placing them in two 
parallel lines, back to back, in a position at a right angle 
to the one held a moment before. This quickly executed 
manoeuvre placed one half of my command squarely 
upon the right flank of one portion of the enemy's un- 
broken line, and the other half facing in exactly the 
opposite direction, squarely upon the left flank of the 
enemy's line. This position is correctly represented by 
the solid (Federal) and dotted (Confederate) lines here 

This done, both these wings were ordered forward, 
and, with another piercing yell, they rushed in opposite 
directions upon the right and left flanks of the astounded 
Federals, shattering them as any troops that were ever 
marshalled would have been shattered, capturing large 
numbers, and checking any further effort by General 
Grant on that portion of the field. 

Meantime, while this unprecedented movement was 
being executed, the Confederates who had been previously 
driven back, rallied and moved in spirited charge to the 
front and recovered the lost ground. Both armies rested 
for the night near the points where the first collisions of 


the day had occurred. It would be more accurate to 
say they remained for the night; for there was little 
rest to the weary men of either army. Both sides 
labored all night in the dark and dense woodland, throw- 
ing up such breastworks as were possible — a most timely 
preparation for the next day's conflicts. My own com- 
mand was ordered during the night to the extreme left 
of Lee's lines, under the apprehension that Grant's right 
overlapped and endangered our left flank. 

Thus ended the 5th of May, which had witnessed the 
first desperate encounter between Grant and Lee. The 
fighting had not involved the whole of either army, but 
it was fierce and bloody. It would be unjust to claim 
that either of the famous leaders had achieved a signal 
victory. Both sides had left their dead scattered through 
the bullet-riddled underbrush. The Confederates drew 
comfort from the fact that in the shifting fortunes of the 
day theirs was the last advance, that the battle had 
ended near where it had begun, and that the Union 
advance had been successfully repulsed. 

It was impossible to know what changes in the dispo- 
sition of his forces General Grant would make during 
the night. It was useless to speculate as to whether he 
would mass his troops for still heavier assault upon the 
positions we then held or would concentrate against 
Lee's right or left flank. All that could be done was to 
prepare as best we could for any contingency, and await 
the developments which the morrow would bring. 



The men ordered to sleep on their arms — Report of scouts — Sedg- 
wick's exposed position — A plan proposed to flank and crush him — 
General Early's objections to it — Unfounded belief that Burnside 
protected Sedgwick — General Lee orders a movement in the late 
afternoon — Its success until interrupted by darkness — The Govern- 
ment official records prove that Early was mistaken. 

THE night of the 5th of May was far spent when my 
command reached its destination on the extreme 
Confederate left. The men were directed to sleep on 
their arms during the remaining hours of darkness. 
Scouts were at once sent to the front to feel their way 
through the thickets and ascertain, if possible, where 
the extreme right of Grant's line rested. At early 
dawn these trusted men reported that they had found 
it : that it rested in the woods only a short distance in 
our front, that it was wholly unprotected, and that the 
Confederate lines stretched a considerable distance be- 
yond the Union right, overlapping it. I was so im- 
pressed with the importance of this report and with the 
necessity of verifying its accuracy that I sent others to 
make the examination, with additional instructions to 
proceed to the rear of Grant's right and ascertain if the 
exposed flank were supported by troops held in reserve 
behiDd it. The former report was not only confirmed 
as to the exposed position of that flank, but the astound- 
ing information was brought that there was not a sup- 
porting force within several miles of it. 



Much of this scouting had been done in the late hours 
of the night and before sunrise on the morning of the 
6th. Meantime, as -this information came my brain was 
throbbing with the tremendous possibilities to which 
such a situation invited us, provided the conditions 
were really as reported. Mounting my horse in the 
early morning and guided by some of these explorers, I 
rode into the unoccupied woodland to see for myself. 
It is enough to say that I found the reports correct in 
every particular. Riding back toward my line, I was 
guided by the scouts to the point near which they had 
located the right of the Union army. Dismounting and 
creeping slowly and cautiously through the dense woods, 
we were soon in ear-shot of an unsuppressed and merry 
clatter of voices. A few feet nearer, and through a 
narrow vista, I was shown the end of General Grant's 
temporary breastworks. There was no line guarding 
this flank. As far as my eye could reach, the Union 
soldiers were seated on the margin of the rifle-pits, tak- 
ing their breakfast. Small fires were burning over 
which they were boiling their coffee, while their guns 
leaned against the works in their immediate front. 

No more time was consumed in scouting. The revela- 
tions had amazed me and filled me with confident antici- 
pations of unprecedented victory. It was evident that 
General Grant had decided to make his heaviest assaults 
upon the Confederate right, and for this purpose had 
ordered his reserves to that flank. By some inconceiv- 
able oversight on the part of his subordinates, his own 
right flank had been left in the extremely exposed con- 
dition in which my scouts had found it. Undoubtedly 
the officer who located that battle line for General Grant 
or for General Sedgwick was under the impression that 
there were no Confederates in front of that portion of it ; 
and this was probably true at the time the location was 
made. That fact, however, did not justify the officer in 


leaving his flank (which is the most vulnerable part of 
an army) thus unguarded for a whole night after the 

If it be true that in peace " eternal vigilance is the 
price of liberty," it is no less true that in war, espe- 
cially war in a wilderness, eternal vigilance is the price 
of an army's safety. Yet, in a woodland so dense that 
an enemy could scarcely be seen at a distance of one 
hundred yards, that Union officer had left the right flank 
of General Grant's army without even a picket-line to 
protect it or a vedette to give the alarm in case of un- 
expected assault. During the night, while the over-con- 
fident Union officer and his men slept in fancied se- 
curity, my men stole silently through the thickets 
and planted a hostile line not only in his immediate 
front, but overlapping it by more than the full length 
of my command. All intelligent military critics will 
certainly agree that such an opportunity as was here 
presented for the overthrow of a great army has 
rarely occurred in the conduct of a war. The failure 
to take advantage of it was even a greater blunder than 
the " untimely discretion " which checked the sweep of 
the Confederate lines upon the Union right on that first 
afternoon at Gettysburg, or the still more fatal delay on 
the third day which robbed Lee of assured victory. 

As soon as all the facts in regard to the situation 
were fully confirmed, I formed and submitted the plan 
which, if promptly adopted and vigorously followed, I 
then believed and still believe would have resulted in 
the crushing defeat of General Grant's army. Indeed, 
the plan of battle may almost be said to have formed 
itself, so naturally, so promptly and powerfully did it 
take hold of my thoughts. That plan and the situation 
which suggested it may be described simply and briefly: 

First, there was Grant's battle line stretching for miles 
through the Wilderness, with Sedgwick's corps on the 


right and Warren's next, while far away on the left was 
Hancock's, supported by the great body of the Union 

Second, in close proximity to this long stretch of 
Union troops, and as nearly parallel to it as circum- 
stances would permit, was Lee's line of Confederates. 

Third, both of these lines were behind small breast- 
works which had been thrown up by the respective 
armies during the night of the 5th. On Lee's left and 
confronting Sedgwick was Ewell's corps, of which my 
command was a part. In my immediate front, as above 
stated, there was no Union force whatever. It was 
perfectly practicable, therefore, for me to move out my 
command and form at right angles to the general line, 
close to Sedgwick's unprotected flank and squarely 
across it. 

Fourth, when this movement should be accomplished 
there would still remain a brigade of Confederates con- 
fronting each brigade of Federals along the established 
battle line. Thus the Union troops could be held to 
their work along the rifle-pits, while my command 
would sweep down upon the flank and obliquely upon 
their rear. 

As later developments proved, one brigade on the 
flank was all that was needed for the inauguration of 
the plan and the demonstration of its possibilities. The 
details of the plan were as follows: While the unsus- 
pecting Federals were drinking their coffee, my troops 
were to move quickly and quietly behind the screen of 
thick underbrush and form squarely on Sedgwick's 
strangely exposed flank, reaching a point far beyond 
that flank and lapping around his rear, so as to capture 
his routed men as they broke to the rear. While my 
command rushed from this ambush a simultaneous 
demonstration was to be made along his front. As each 
of Sedgwick's brigades gave way in confusion, the 


corresponding Confederate brigade, whose front was 
thus cleared on the general line, was to swing into the 
column of attack on the flank, thus swelling at each step 
of our advance the numbers, power, and momentum of 
the Confederate forces as they swept down the line of 
works and extended another brigade's length to the un- 
protected Union rear. As each of the Union brigades, 
divisions, and corps were struck by such an absolutely 
resistless charge upon the flank and rear, they must fly 
or be captured. The effective force of Grant's army 
would be thus constantly diminished, and in the same 
proportion the column of attack would be steadily 

Add to this inestimable Confederate advantage the 
panic and general demoralization that was inevitable on 
the one side, and the corresponding and ever-increasing 
enthusiasm that would be aroused upon the other, and 
it will be admitted that I do not overestimate the oppor- 
tunity when I say that it has been rarely equalled in any 

As far as could be anticipated, the plan was devised to 
meet every contingency. For example, as Sedgwick had 
no reserves in support behind him, all having been sent 
to the Union left, his only chance of meeting the sudden 
assault on his right and rear was to withdraw from his 
intrenchments under the fire of this flanking force and 
attempt to form a new line at right angle to his works, 
and thus perhaps arrest the headlong Confederate 

But it will be seen that his situation would then be 
rendered still more hopeless, because as he changed 
front and attempted to form a new line the Confeder- 
ates in front of his works were to leap from their rifle- 
pits and rush upon his newly exposed flank. He would 
thus be inevitably crushed between the two Confederate 


When Sedgwick's corps should thus be destroyed, the 
fate of the next Union corps (Warren's) would surely be 
sealed, for in its front would be the Confederate corps, 
led by that brilliant soldier, A. P. Hill, ready to assault 
from that direction, while upon its flank would be not 
only my two brigades, as in the case of Sedgwick, but 
Ewell's entire corps, adding to the column of attack. 
In practically unobstructed march around Warren's 
flank Ewell would speedily envelop it, and thus the 
second Union corps in the battle line would be forced to 
precipitate flight; or if it attempted, however bravely, 
to stand its ground, it would be inevitably crushed or 
captured as Ewell assailed it in rear while Hill assaulted 
in front. 

And so of the next corps and the next. Had no part 
of this plan ever been tested, the vast results which 
must have attended its execution could scarcely be 
doubted by any experienced soldier. Fortunately, how- 
ever, for the removal of all doubt in the premises, it was 
tested — tested at an hour most unfavorable to its success 
and after almost the entire day had been wasted ; tested 
on General Lee's approval and by his personal order and 
almost in his immediate presence. The test, unfair as 
it was, furnished the plainest and most convincing proof 
that had it been made at an early hour in the day in- 
stead of at sundown, the 6th of May would have ended 
in the crushing defeat of General Grant's army. 

Here is the test and here the results. With my own 
Georgia brigade and General Robert Johnson's North 
Carolinians moving by the left flank, so that we should 
have nothing to do, when the proper point was reached, 
except to close up, to front face and forward, we pressed 
through the woods as rapidly and noiselessly as possible 
and halted at the point immediately opposite Sedgwick's 

The solid and dotted lines here given sufficiently 


indicate the approximate positions occupied by the re- 
spective armies at the beginning of my flank attack. 



The Georgia brigade (Gordon's) was directed to make 
the assault, and the North Carolina brigade (Johnson's) 
was ordered to move farther to the Union rear and to 
keep as nearly as possible in touch with the attacking 
force and to gather up Sedgwick's men as they broke to 
the rear. As the sun went down these troops were 
ordered forward. In less than ten minutes they struck 
the Union flank and with thrilling yells rushed upon it 
and along the Union works, shattering regiments and 
brigades, and throwing them into wildest confusion and 
panic. There was practically no resistance. There 
could be none. The Georgians, commanded by that in- 
trepid leader, Clement A. Evans, were on the flank, and 
the North Carolinians, led by a brilliant young officer, 
Robert Johnson, were sweeping around to the rear, with- 
out a shot in their front. There was nothing for the 
brave Federals to do but to fly. There was no time 
given them to file out from their works and form a new 
line of resistance. This was attempted again and again ; 
but in every instance the swiftly moving Confederates 
were upon them, pouring a consuming fire into their half- 
formed ranks and shivering one command after another 
in quick succession. The gallant Union leaders, Gen- 
erals Seymour and Shaler, rode among their panic- 
stricken troops in the heroic endeavor to form them into 
a new line. Their brave efforts were worse than unavail- 


ing, for both of these superb officers, with large numbers 
of their brigades, were quickly gathered as prisoners of 
war in the Confederate net; and nearly the whole of 
Sedgwick's corps was disorganized. 

It is due to both General Ewell and G-eneral Early to 
say that they did all in their power to help forward the 
movement when once begun. There was, however, little 
need for help, for the North Carolina brigade, which was 
in the movement, had not found an opportunity to fire 
or to receive a shot ; and the Georgia brigade as a whole 
had not been checked for a single moment nor suffered 
any serious loss. These men were literally revelling in 
the chase, when the unwelcome darkness put an end to 
it. They were so enthused by the pursuit, which they 
declared to me, as I rode among them, was the " finest 
frolic " they had ever been engaged in, that it was diffi- 
cult to halt them even when it became too dark to dis- 
tinguish friend from foe. With less than sixty casualties, 
this brigade almost single-handed had achieved these 
great results during the brief twilight of the 6th of May. 
And possibly one half of the small loss that occurred 
was inflicted after nightfall by Confederates who enthusi- 
astically charged from the front upon the Union breast- 
works, firing as they came, and not realizing that my 
command in its swift movement down the flank had 
reached that point on Sedgwick's line. The brave and 
brilliant John W. Daniel, now United States senator 
from Virginia, was then serving on the staff of G-eneral 
Early. As he rode with me in the darkness, he fell, des- 
perately wounded, with his thigh-bone shattered. He 
narrowly escaped death from this wound, which has 
maimed him for life. 

It will be seen that my troops were compelled to halt 
at last, not by the enemy's resistance, but solely by the 
darkness and the cross-fire from Confederates. Had 
daylight lasted one half-hour longer, there would not 


have been left an organized company in Sedgwick's 
corps. Even as it was, all accounts agree that his whole 
command was shaken. As I rode abreast of the Geor- 
gians, who were moving swiftly and with slight resist- 
ance, the last scene which met my eye as the curtain of 
night shut off the view was the crumbling of the Union 
lines as they bravely but vainly endeavored to file out 
of their works and form a new line under the furious 
onset and withering fire of the Confederates. 

General Horace Porter, who served with distinction on 
General Grant's staff, speaking in his book of this twi- 
light flank attack on the 6th of May, says : " It was now 
about sundown; the storm of battle which had raged 
with unabated fury from early dawn had been succeeded 
by a calm. . . . Just then the stillness was broken 
by heavy volleys of musketry on our extreme right, 
which told that Sedgwick had been assaulted and was 
actually engaged with the enemy. The attack against 
which the general-in-chief during the day had ordered 
every precaution to be taken had now been made. 
. . . Generals Grant and Meade, accompanied by 
me and one or two other staff officers, walked rapidly 
over to Meade's tent, and found that the reports 
still coming in were bringing news of increasing 
disaster. It was soon reported that General Shaler and 
part of his brigade had been captured; then that Gen- 
eral Seymour and several hundred of his men had fallen 
into the hands of the enemy; afterward that our right 
had been turned, and Ferrero's division cut off and forced 
back upon the Rapidan. . . . Aides came galloping 
in from the right, laboring under intense excitement, 
talking wildly and giving the most exaggerated reports 
of the engagement. Some declared that a large force 
had broken and scattered Sedgwick's entire corps. 
Others insisted that the enemy had turned our right com- 
pletely and captured the wagon-train. ... A general 


officer came in from his command at this juncture and 
said to the general-in-chief, speaking rapidly and labor- 
ing under considerable excitement : ' General Grant, 
this is a crisis that cannot be looked upon too seri- 
ously ; I know Lee's methods well by past experience ; 
he will throw his whole army between us and the 
Rapidan and cut us off completely from our communi- 
cations.' " 

This extract from General Porter's book is given 
merely to show what consternation had been carried 
into the Union ranks by this flank attack, which had 
been delayed from early morning to sundown. The 
question is pertinent : What would have been the result 
of that flank movement had the plan of battle suggested 
been promptly accepted in the early morning and vigor- 
ously executed, as was urged ? 

If we carefully and impartially consider all the facts 
and circumstances, there cannot be much disagreement 
as to the answer. If that one Georgia brigade, sup- 
ported by the North Carolinians, could accomplish such 
results in such brief space of time, it is beyond question 
that the Confederate column of attack, constantly aug- 
mented during an entire day of battle, would have swept 
the Union forces from the field. Indeed, had not dark- 
ness intervened, the Georgia and North Carolina brigades 
alone would have shattered Sedgwick's entire corps ; and 
the brigades and divisions of Ewell, which confronted 
those of Sedgwick on the general line, would have 
marched steadily across to join the Georgians and North 
Carolinians, instead of rushing across in the darkness, 
firing as they came, and inflicting more damage upon 
my men than upon the enemy. 

General Porter, speaking of General Grant's prompt- 
ness after dark in " relieving the situation," says : " Re- 
enforcements were hurried to the point attacked, and 
preparations made for Sedgwick's corps to take up a 


new line with the front and right thrown back." These 
movements were such as were to be expected from so 
able a commander as General Grant. But it will be seen 
that neither of them could have been accomplished had 
this flank assault been made at an early hour of the day. 
General Grant's army on the other flank was so pressed 
that he could not have safely weakened his force there 
to aid Sedgwick. Both armies on that flank were 
strained to the utmost, and Lee and Grant were both 
there in person, superintending the operations of their 
respective forces. When night came and put an end to 
the fighting on his left flank, then, and not till then, was 
General Grant in position to send reinforcements to 
Sedgwick. Moreover, had the plan of battle proposed 
to Early and Ewell been accepted, Lee, of course, would 
have been fully advised of it, and of every stage of its 
progress. He would, therefore, have made all his arrange- 
ments auxiliary to this prime movement upon General 
Grant's exposed right. The simple announcement to 
Lee of the fact that this right flank of the Union army 
was entirely unprotected, and that it was in close prox- 
imity to his unemployed troops, would have been to that 
great Southern soldier the herald of victory. He would 
have anticipated at once every material and command- 
ing event which must necessarily have followed the 
embracing of so unexampled an opportunity. As soon 
as he had learned that his troops were placed secretly 
and squarely across Sedgwick's right, Lee could have 
written in advance a complete description of the resist- 
less Confederate charge— of the necessary flight or cap- 
ture in quick succession of the hopelessly flanked Union 
commands, of the cumulative power of the Confederate 
column at every step of its progress, compelling General 
Grant to send large bodies of men to his right, thus 
weakening his left. In front of that left was Lee in 
person. With a full knowledge of the progress made by 


Ms own flanking columns, and appreciating the extremity 
in which such a movement would place the Union com- 
mander, Lee would have lost no time in availing himself 
of all the advantages of the anomalous situation. Know- 
ing that General Grant would be compelled to send a 
large part of his army to meet the Confederate column, 
which had completely turned his flank and was pressing 
his rear, Lee would either have driven back the forces 
left in his front, thus bringing confusion to that wing 
also, or he would have detached a portion of the troops 
under his immediate command and sent them to Ewell 
to swell the column of Confederates already in Grant's 
rear, forcing him to change front and reform his whole 
battle line under the most perilous conditions. 

After weighing the unparalleled advantage which 
such a situation would have given to such a commander 
as Lee, can any impartial military critic suggest a ma- 
noeuvre which could possibly have saved General Grant's 
army from crushing defeat ? If so, he will have solved 
the embarrassing problem which a completely flanked 
and crumbling army must always meet. 

The simple truth is that an army which is expending 
all its strength, or even the major part of it, in repelling 
attacks along its front, and permits itself to be completely 
flanked, is in the utmost extremity of peril. Among the 
highest military authorities there will be no dispute, I 
think, as to the correctness of the proposition that 
when opposing battle lines are held by forces of even 
approximate strength and of equal fighting qualities, 
and are commanded by officers of equal ability, the one 
or the other is in a practically hopeless condition if, 
while met at every point on its front, it is suddenly 
startled by a carefully planned and vigorous assault 
upon either its flank or rear. Its situation is still more 
desperate if assaulted both in flank and rear. This is 
especially true when the plan of attack is based upon 


the certainty of rapidly accumulating strength in the 
assaulting column. It is not too much to say that the 
position of an army so flanked is absolutely hopeless 
unless, as in this case, the coming of darkness intervenes 
to save it. 

Another inquiry to which I feel compelled, in the 
interest of history, to give a full and frank answer is 
this : Who was responsible for the delay of nine hours 
or more while that exposed Union flank was inviting 
our attack % 

When the plan for assault was fully matured, it was 
presented, with all its tremendous possibilities and with 
the full information which had been acquired by scouts 
and by my own personal and exhaustive examination. 
With all the earnestness that comes from deep convic- 
tion, the prompt adoption and vigorous execution of 
the plan were asked and urged. General Early at once 
opposed it. He said that Burnside's corps was immedi- 
ately behind Sedgwick's right to protect it from any 
such flank attack ; that if I should attempt such move- 
ment, Burnside would assail my flank and rout or cap- 
ture all my men. He was so firmly fixed in his belief 
that Burnside's corps was where he declared it to be that 
he was not perceptibly affected by the repeated reports 
of scouts, nor my own statement that I myself had 
ridden for miles in rear of Sedgwick's right, and that 
neither Burnside's corps nor any other troops were 
there. General Ewell, whose province it was to decide 
the controversy, hesitated. He was naturally reluctant 
to take issue with my superior officer in a matter 
about which he could have no personal knowledge, 
because of the fact that his headquarters as corps- 
commander were located at considerable distance from 
this immediate locality. In view of General Early's 
protest, he was unwilling to order the attack or to 
grant me permission to make it, even upon my pro- 


posing to assume all responsibility of disaster, should 
any occur. 

Meantime the roaring battle to our right was punctu- 
ating with tremendous emphasis the folly of our delay. 
A. P. Hill, in impetuous assault, had broken and hurled 
back almost upon General Grant's headquarters a por- 
tion of Warren's corps. The zone of the most furious 
fighting was, however, still farther off and on the 
extreme right of our line, where the heaviest forces of 
both armies were gathered. The almost incessant roll 
of musketry indicated that the fighting was tremendous. 
From 4 : 30 o'clock in the morning, through the entire 
forenoon, and until late in the day, there had been at 
different points along the lines to our right alternate 
and desperate assaults by the two armies, with varying 
success; but not a shot was being fired near us. My 
troops and the other portions of Ewell's corps were 
comparatively idle during the greater part of the day, 
while the bloody scenes to our right were being enacted. 
It is most remarkable that the desperate struggle on 
that far-off flank, coupled with the stillness on ours, 
failed to impress my superior officers as significant. In 
the early hours of the day Hancock had pressed back 
the Confederate right, doubling it up and driving it, as 
was asserted, for a mile or more. Meantime Longstreet 
arrived with his superb corps. Hancock was checked, 
and General Grant's forces, in turn, were hurled back by 
the Confederate assaults. Like an oscillating pendulum, 
victory was vibrating between the two armies through 
all of that eventful day, while at any hour of it the pro- 
posed movement on Sedgwick's flank by Ewell's idle 
Confederates was not only perfectly feasible, but full of 
promise to the Confederate army. 

After Jenkins was killed and Longstreet had been 
carried back on a litter, seriously wounded, General 
Lee's attention was necessarily confined to that portion 


of the field where General Grant was superintending his 
own aggressive operations. This was one of the crises 
when General Lee took personal command of his troops ; 
and as Gregg's superb brigade of Texans pressed to the 
front, the commander-in-chief spurred his horse through 
a gap in the trenches and attempted to go with them. 
As these brave men recognized General Lee, a ringing 
protest ran down the line, and they at last compelled 
him to yield to their entreaties : " Go back, General Lee ; 
go back ! " 

General Grant during that day was full of apprehen- 
sion that Ewell would attempt some offensive tactics 
against Sedgwick, while Lee was wondering why it was 
not done. Lee knew that it ought to be done, as will 
appear later, if for no other object than to divert Grant's 
attention from his prime purpose and thus bring inci- 
dental relief to Longstreet and the other heavily pressed 
Confederates far off to our right. General Horace Por- 
ter, in his " Campaigning with Grant," more than once 
refers to General Grant's uneasiness about Sedgwick. 
He says : " The general-in-chief was devoting a good 
deal of thought to our right, which had been weakened." 
"Well might General Grant be apprehensive. Had he 
been fully apprised of that strangely exposed flank of 
his army, he would have been impelled to send troops to 
protect Sedgwick's right. On the other hand, had Lee 
been advised, as he should have been, of the reports of 
my scouts and of myself, he would not have delayed the 
proposed movement against Sedgwick's flank a moment 
longer than was necessary to give an order for its exe- 
cution. The correctness of this opinion as to what Lee 
would have done is based not merely upon the knowledge 
which every officer in his army possessed of his mental 
characteristics, but upon his prompt action when at last 
he was informed of the conditions as they had existed 
for more than nine hours. 


Both General Early and I were at Ewell's headquarters 
when, at about 5 : 30 in the afternoon, General Lee rode 
up and asked : " Cannot something be done on this flank 
to relieve the pressure upon our right ? " After listening 
for some time to the conference which followed this 
pointed inquiry, I felt it my duty to acquaint General 
Lee with the facts as to Sedgwick's exposed flank, and 
with the plan of battle which had been submitted and 
urged in the early hours of the morning and during the 
day. General Early again promptly and vigorously 
protested as he had previously done. He still steadfastly 
maintained that Burnside's corps was in the woods 
behind Sedgwick's right; that the movement was too 
hazardous and must result in disaster to us. With as 
much earnestness as was consistent with the position of 
junior officer, I recounted the facts to General Lee, and 
assured him that General Early was mistaken; that I 
had ridden for several miles in Sedgwick's rear, and that 
neither Burnside's corps nor any other Union troops 
were concealed in those woods. The details of the 
whole plan were laid before him. There was no doubt 
with him as to its feasibility. His words were few, but 
his silence and grim looks while the reasons for that 
long delay were being given, and his prompt order tome 
to move at once to the attack, revealed his thoughts 
almost as plainly as words could have done. Late as it 
was, he agreed in the opinion that we could bring havoc 
to as much of the Union line as we could reach before 
darkness should check us. It was near sunset, and too 
late to reap more than a pittance of the harvest which 
had so long been inviting the Confederate sickle. 

Where was General Burnside on the morning of the 
6th ? Where was he during the entire day ? 

General Early never yielded his convictions that had I 
been permitted to attack Sedgwick's exposed right flank 
in the morning, the movement would have led to Confed- 


erate disaster, because of the presence of Burnside be- 
hind that flank. He was so thoroughly satisfied of this 
that in his book, written and published since the war, he 
insists: "Burnside's corps was in rear of the enemy's 
flank on which the attack was suggested." In the years 
that have passed I have made no effort to controvert Gen- 
eral Early's opinions in this matter. Now, however, the 
time has come when the publication of my own remi- 
niscences makes it necessary for me to speak. The recent 
printing by the Government of the War Eecords makes 
public the official reports of the Federal officers who 
fought in the Wilderness on that 6th of May. I shall 
quote only from Federal officers or Northern history. 

In his report General Hancock says : " I am not aware 
what movements were made by General Burnside near 
Parker's store on the morning of the 6th, but I experi- 
enced no relief from the attack I was informed he would 
make across my front — a movement long and anxiously 
waited for. . . . During the night of the 5th I re- 
ceived orders to move on the enemy again at 5 a.m. on 
the 6th." He adds that his orders informed him that 
his right would be relieved by an attack of other troops, 
among them " two divisions . . . under General Burn- 
side." It will be remembered that Hancock held the 
extreme left of Grant's army. Burnside was there with 
Hancock. This officer describes the places and times 
where and when Burnside was to move, and adds : " The 
same despatch directed me to attack simultaneously with 
General Burnside." 

This was during the morning hours. * Later in the day 
General Meade locates him thus : " Soon after Hancock 
fell back, about 2 p.m., Burnside attacked toward the 
Orange plank road to the right and in advance of Han- 
cock's position." 

General Grant himself (speaking of Burnside's move- 
ments) says in his official report : " By six o'clock of the 


morning of the 6th he was leading his corps into action 
near Wilderness Tavern," etc. 

Swinton, in his history of " The Army of the Potomac," 
says : " The Union line as formed by dawn of the 6th 
was therefore in the order of Sedgwick on the right, next 
Warren, and Burnside and Hancock on the left." 

General Porter says: "At four o'clock the next 
morning, May 6, we were awakened in our camp by the 
sound of Burnside's men moving along the Germanna 
road. They had been marching since 1 a.m., hurrying 
on to reach the left of Warren? He adds : " The gen- 
eral now instructed me to ride out to Hancock's front, 
inform him of the progress of Burnside's movement," 
etc. This was early on the morning of the 6th, and 
Hancock and Burnside were on the extreme left. It is 
established, therefore, beyond question that Burnside 
was not in rear of Sedgwick when I insisted upon attack- 
ing that exposed right flank in the early morning. He 
was not there at all during the entire day. He was on 
the other flank of Grant's army morning, noon, and even- 
ing. The Federal reports so locate him, and there can 
be no longer any dispute as to Burnside's locality, upon 
which the entire controversy rests. 

General Early, in his book, states that General Ewell 
agreed with him as to the impolicy of making the morn- 
ing flank attack which I so earnestly urged. Alas ! he 
did ; and in the light of revelations subsequently made 
by Union officers, no intelligent military critic, I think, 
will fail to sympathize with my lament, which was even 
more bitter than at Gettysburg, over the irreparable loss 
of Jackson. But for my firm faith in God's Providence, 
and in His control of the destinies of this Republic, I 
should be tempted to imitate the confident exclamation 
made to the Master by Mary and Martha when they met 
Him after the death of Lazarus : " Hadst thou been here, 
our brother had not died." Calmly reviewing the indis- 
putable facts which made the situation at Gettysburg 


and in the Wilderness strikingly similar, and consider- 
ing them from a purely military and worldly stand- 
point, I should utter my profoundest convictions were I 
to say : " Had Jackson been there, the Confederacy had 
not died." Had he been at Gettysburg when a part of 
that Second Corps which his genius had made famous 
had already broken through the protecting forces and 
was squarely on the Union right, which was melting 
away like a sand-bank struck by a mountain torrent; 
when the whole Union battle line that was in view was 
breaking to the rear ; when those flanking Confederates 
in their unobstructed rush were embarrassed only by the 
number of prisoners — had Jackson been there then, in- 
stead of commanding a halt, his only order would have 
been, " Forward, men, forward!" as he majestically rode 
in their midst, intensifying their flaming enthusiasm at 
every step of the advance. 

Or had he been in the Wilderness on that fateful 6th 
of May, when that same right flank of the Union army 
was so strangely exposed and was inviting the assault 
of that same portion of his old corps, words descrip- 
tive of the situation and of the plan of attack could not 
have been uttered fast enough for his impatient spirit. 
Jackson's genius was keener-scented in its hunt for an 
enemy's flank than the most royally bred setter's nose in 
search of the hiding covey. The fleetest tongue could 
not have narrated the facts connected with Sedgwick's 
position before Jackson's unerring judgment would have 
grasped the whole situation. His dilating eye would 
have flashed, and his laconic order, " Move at once, sir," 
would have been given with an emphasis prophetic of 
the energy with which he would have seized upon every 
advantage offered by the situation. But Providence had 
willed otherwise. Jackson was dead, and Gettysburg 
was lost. He was not now in the Wilderness, and the 
greatest opportunity ever presented to Lee's army was 
permitted to pass. 



General Grant the aggressor— Failure to dislodge Lee— An exciting 
night ride— Surrounded by Federal troops— A narrow escape in the 
darkness — General Lee's comments on the assault upon Sedgwick — 
A remarkable prediction as to General Grant's next movement. 

IN the thirty hours, more or less, which elapsed from 
the beginning of the struggle on the 5th of May to 
its close after dark on the 6th, there was, during the 
night which intervened, a period of about eleven hours 
in which the fighting was suspended. In addition to 
this, the intervals between the successive assaults and 
the skirmishing consumed, perhaps, in all, some eight or 
nine hours, leaving in round numbers about ten hours 
of uninterrupted, continuous battle. When -it is remem- 
bered that the aggregate losses on the two sides 
amounted in killed and wounded to twenty thousand, it 
will be seen that these Americans were shooting each 
other down at the rate of two thousand per hour ; and 
yet at no time or place during these hours was one half 
of the two lines in actual strenuous battle. 

As at Gettysburg, so in this prolonged struggle of the 
5th and 6th of May, there was a series of desperate bat- 
tles ; but, unlike Gettysburg, this engagement brought 
to neither army any decided advantage. Both had suc- 
cesses, both corresponding reverses. 

The critical student, however, who wishes to make a 



more complete analysis of the two days' happenings on 
those battle lines, and to consider the resulting situation 
on the night of the 6th, will, in order to determine on 
which side was the weight of victory, take into account 
the following facts: namely, that General Grant was 
the aggressor ; that his purpose was to drive Lee before 
him ; that this was not accomplished ; that both armies 
camped on the field ; that Lee only left it when Grant 
moved to another field ; and that both days ended with 
a Confederate victory won by the same Confederate 

His gifted staff officer states that General Grant, during 
this last day of alternate successes and reverses, smoked 
twenty large, strong Havana cigars. In after years, 
when it was my privilege to know General Grant well, he 
was still a great smoker ; but if the nervous strain under 
which he labored is to be measured by the number of 
cigars consumed, it must have been greater on the 6th 
of May than at any period of his life, for he is said 
never to have equalled that record. As General Lee did 
not smoke, we have no such standard by which to test 
the tension upon him. I apprehend, however, that his 
pulses also were beating at an accelerated pace, for he 
and General Grant were for the first time testing each 
other's mettle. 

The night of the 6th passed without alarms on the 
picket-lines or startling reports from scouts; but a 
short time after darkness had brought an end to my 
attack on Sedgwick's corps, I myself had an exception- 
ally exciting experience — a cautious ride to the front 
and a madcap ride to the rear. I had ordered a force 
to move a short distance nearer to the enemy and deploy 
a protecting line of pickets across my front. This 
movement was so difficult in that dense thicket at night 
that the task was both dangerous and slow. The officer 
in charge was to notify me when the line was in position. 


I waited impatiently for this notification, and as it did 
not reach me as soon as expected, I decided to ride 
slowly to the front and in person superintend the de- 

Taking with me but one courier, William Beasley of 
Lagrange, Georgia, who had been in his boyhood the 
constant companion of his father, Dr. Beasley, in the 
fox chase, and who had thus become an experienced 
woodsman, I rode cautiously in the general direction 
taken by my picket force. There was no moonlight, but 
the night was cloudless and the stars furnished enough 
light for us to ride without serious difficulty through the 
woods. It was, however, too dark for us readily to dis- 
tinguish the color of uniforms. Before we had pro- 
ceeded far we rode into a body of men supposed to be 
the troops whom I had sent out on picket. There was no 
sort of deployment or alignment, and I was considerably 
annoyed by this appearance of carelessness on the part 
of the officer, to whom I had given special instructions. 
But before I had time to ascertain what this indiffer- 
ence to orders meant, my trusted courier, whose sight 
was clearer than mine at night, said to me in a whisper, 
" General, these are not our men ; they are Yankees." 
I replied, " Nonsense, Beasley," and rode on, still hoping 
to ascertain the reason for this inexcusable huddling of 
my pickets. Beasley, however, was persistent, and, 
taking hold of my arm, asserted in the most emphatic 
manner, " I tell you, General, these men are Yankees, 
and we had better get away from here." His earnest- 
ness impressed me, especially as he strengthened his 
assertion by calling my attention to the fact that even 
in the dim starlight the dark blue of the uniforms 
around us presented a contrast with those we were 
wearing. I cautioned him to be quiet and keep close 
to me as I began to turn my horse in the opposite 
direction. Meantime, and at the moment we discovered 


our alarming position, we heard the startling calls from 
Union officers close by us, who were endeavoring to 
disentangle the confused mass of men : " Rally here, 
New York." " Let all the men of the Regi- 
ment of Pennsylvania form here." Up to this moment 
not the slightest suspicion seemed to have been enter- 
tained by these men that Beasley and I were Confeder- 
ates ; and, apparently for the sole purpose of ascertaining 
to what Union command we belonged, an officer with 
his sword in his hand asked in the most courteous 
manner to what brigade we were attached, evidently 
hoping to aid us in finding it. Both Beasley and I were, 
of course, deaf to his inquiry, and continued to move on 
without making any reply, turning our horses' heads 
toward the gray lines in which we would feel more at 
home. Either our strange silence or our poorly con- 
cealed purpose to get away from that portion of the 
Wilderness aroused his suspicions, and the officer called 
to his comrades as we rode away from him, " Halt those 
men ! " His orders were scarcely uttered when the 
" boys in blue " rushed around us, shouting, " Halt, 
halt ! " But the company in which we found ourselves 
was not congenial and the locality was not at that 
moment a good place for us to halt. We had to go, and 
go instantly, back to our own lines or to a Northern 
prison. I instantly resolved to take the risk of escape, 
though we might be shot into mincemeat by the hun- 
dreds of rifles around us. Beasley was well mounted, 
and I was riding a thoroughbred stallion, the horse 
General Shaler rode when he was made prisoner a few 
hours previous. Both Beasley and I were fairly good 
riders. Instantly throwing my body as far down on 
my horse's side as possible, my right foot firmly fixed 
in the stirrup, my left leg gripping the saddle like an 
iron elbow, I seized the bridle-rein under my horse's 
neck, planted my spur in his flank, and called, " Fol- 


low me, Beasley ! " This courier had intuitively fol- 
lowed the motion of my body, and was clinging like an 
experienced cowboy to the side of his horse. As the 
superb animal which I rode felt the keen barb of the 
spur, he sprang with a tremendous bound through the 
dense underbrush and the mass of startled soldiers. It 
seems probable that the Union men were in almost as 
much danger from the hoofs of our horses as we were 
from the Union rifles. 

Strange as our escape may seem, it will be readily 
understood when it is remembered that the whole affair, 
like a sudden flash in the darkness, was so unexpected 
and so startling as completely to bewilder these men, 
and that they were crowded so closely together that it 
was difficult to shoot at us without shooting each other. 
In our flight we seemed to outstrip the bullets sent after 
us ; for neither Beasley nor myself nor our horses were 
hit, although the roll of musketry was like that from a 
skirmish line. With the exception of bruises to shins 
and scalps, the only serious damage done was that in- 
flicted upon our clothing by the bristling chinquapins 
and pines, through which we plunged at so furious a rate. 

The impressive feature of that memorable night was 
the silence that succeeded the din of battle. The awe 
inspired by the darkness and density of the woods, in 
which two great armies rested within hailing distance 
of each other, was deepened by the low moans of the 
wounded, and their calls for help, as the ambulance 
corps ministered to blue and gray alike. And yet 
these harrowing conditions, which can never be for- 
gotten, did not compare in impressiveness with those at 
the other end of the lines. As already explained, the 
battle's storm-centre was on our right flank. The di- 
ameter of its circling and destructive currents did not 
exceed, perhaps, one and a half miles ; but the amount 
of blood spilt has not often been equalled in so circum- 


scribed an area. The conditions were not favorable for 
the nse of artillery ; but the few batteries used left their 
impress on the forest and the imaginations of the men. 
The solid shot slashed the timber, and the severed tree- 
tops or branches dropped upon the surging lines, here 
and there covering, as they fell, the wounded and the 
dead. The smaller underbrush in that zone of fire was 
everywhere cut and scarred, and in some places swept 
down by the terrific hail from small arms. Bloody strips 
from soldiers' shirts hung upon the bushes, while, to add 
to the accumulation of horrors, the woods caught fire, as 
at Chickamauga, and the flames rapidly spread before a 
brisk wind, terrifying the disabled wounded and scorch- 
ing the bodies of the slain. 

On the morning of May 7, I was invited by the com- 
manding general to ride with him through that por- 
tion of the sombre woodland where the movement of my 
troops upon the Union right had occurred on the pre- 
vious evening. It will be remembered that the plan of 
that battle was entirely my own, and that its execution had 
been delayed until my statement of the facts to General 
Lee, in the presence of Generals Ewell and Early, secured 
from the commander-in-chief the order for the movement. 
The reasons which impel me to refrain from giving Gen- 
eral Lee's comments in this connection will therefore be 
appreciated. I shall be pardoned, however, and, I think, 
justified by all fair-minded men if I say that although 
nothing could compensate the Confederate cause for that 
lost opportunity, yet his indorsement of the plan was to 
me personally all that I could desire. 

It would be a matter of profound interest if all that 
General Lee said on this ride could be placed upon record. 
This I could not venture to undertake ; but I may state, 
without fear of misleading, that his comments upon the 
situation were full and free. He discussed the dominant 
characteristics of his great antagonist: his indomitable 


will and untiring persistency ; his direct method of wag- 
ing war by delivering constant and heavy blows upon 
the enemy's front . rather than by seeking advantage 
through strategical manoeuvre. General Lee also said 
that General Grant held so completely and firmly the 
confidence of the Government that he could command 
to any extent its limitless resources in men and mate- 
rials, while the Confederacy was already practically ex- 
hausted in both. He, however, hoped— perhaps I may 
say he was almost convinced — that if we could keep the 
Confederate army between General Grant and Rich- 
mond, checking him for a few months longer, as we had 
in the past two days, some crisis in public affairs or 
change in public opinion at the North might induce the 
authorities at Washington to let the Southern States go, 
rather than force their retention in the Union at so 
heavy a cost. 

I endeavored to learn from General Lee what move- 
ments he had in contemplation, or what he next expected 
from General Grant. It was then, in reply to my inquiry, 
that I learned for the first time of his intention to move 
at once to Spottsylvania. Reports had reached me to the 
effect that General Grant's army was retreating or pre- 
paring to retreat; and I called General Lee's attention 
to these rumors. He had heard them, but they had not 
made the slightest impression upon his mind. He 
admitted that his own scouts had made to him some 
such statement, but said that such rumors had no foun- 
dation, except in the moving to the rear of General 
Grant's ambulances and wagon-trains, with the necessary 
forces for protection. Indeed, he said in so many words : 
" General Grant is not going to retreat. He will move 
his army to Spottsylvania." 

I asked him if he had information of such contemplated 
change by General Grant, or if there were special evi- 
dences of such purpose. " Not at all," said Lee, " not at 


all ; but that is the next point at which the armies will 
meet. Spottsylvania is now General Grant's best strategic 
point. I am so sure of his next move that I have already 
made arrangements to march by the shortest practicable 
route, that we may meet him there." If these are not 
his exact words, they change in no sense the import of 
what he did say. These unhesitating and emphatic state- 
ments as to Grant's purposes were made by Lee as if 
based on positive knowledge and not upon mere specula- 
tion ; and the reasons given by him for his conclusions 
as to Grant's next move illustrate the Confederate chief- 
tain's wonderful foresight as well as his high estimate of 
the Union commander as a soldier. 

General Horace Porter, of General Grant's staff, says : 
11 At 6 : 30 the general issued his orders to prepare for a 
night march of the entire army toward Spottsylvania 

Let it be remembered that this announcement by Gen- 
eral Grant of his purpose was made at 6 : 30 a.m. on the 
7th, and that General Lee's prediction was uttered on 
the same morning and at nearly the same hour, when 
there was no possibility of his having gained any direct 
knowledge of his antagonist's intentions. It was uttered 
many hours before General Stuart, the Confederate cav- 
alry commander, had informed General Lee of the move- 
ment of Union wagon-trains southward, which movement 
served only to verify the accuracy with which he had 
divined General Grant's purposes and predicted his next 

This notable prophecy of General Lee and its fulfil- 
ment by General Grant show that the brains of these two 
foemen had been working at the same problem. The 
known quantities in that problem were the aims of Grant 
to crush Lee and capture Richmond, to which had been 
added the results of the last two days' fighting. The 
unknown quantity which both were endeavoring to find 


was the next movement which the aggressor would prob- 
ably make. Grant stood in his own place and calculated 
from his own standpoint; Lee put himself in Grant's 
place and calculated from the same standpoint : and both 
found the same answer— Spottsylvania. 

Having reached the same conclusion, both acted upon 
it with characteristic promptness ; and then there was a 
race between them. Leaving their respective pioneer 
corps to bury the dead, and the surgeons and nurses to 
care for the wounded, they pressed toward the goal which 
their own convictions had set before them. 



General Lee's prophecy fulfilled— Hancock's assault on May 12— One 
of his greatest achievements— General Lee to the head of the column 
—Turned back by his own men— Hancock repulsed— The most re- 
markable battle of the war— Heroism on both sides. 

THE first battles in the "Wilderness were the grim 
heralds of those that were to follow, and both 
armies knew it. These experienced soldiers were too 
intelligent not to understand that a campaign was now 
inaugurated which was to end in the practical destruc- 
tion of one army or the other. The conditions around 
them were not greatly changed by the change of locality. 
They were still in the woods, but these were less dense 
and were broken by fields and open spaces in which 
there was room for manoeuvre and the more effective 
handling of artillery. 

The meeting of the advance-guards at Spottsylvania 
was the fulfilment to the letter of Lee's remarkable 
prophecy. As the heads of the columns collided, the 
armies quickly spread into zigzag formation as each 
brigade, division, or corps struck its counterpart in the 
opposing lines. These haphazard collisions, however, 
rapidly developed a more orderly alignment and system- 
atic battle, which culminated in that unparalleled strug- 
gle for the possession of a short line of Lee's breast- 
works. I say unparalleled, because the character of the 



fighting, its duration, and the individual heroism ex- 
hibited have no precedent, so far as my knowledge 
extends, in our Civil War, or in any other war. 

During these preliminary and somewhat random en- 
gagements, General Lee, in order to secure the most 
advantageous locality offered by the peculiar topography 
of the country, had placed his battle line so that it should 
conform in large measure to the undulations of the field. 
Along the brow of these slopes earthworks were speed- 
ily constructed. On one portion of the line, which 
embraced what was afterward known as the " Bloody 
Angle," there was a long stretch of breastworks forming 
almost a complete semicircle. Its most advanced or 
outer salient was the point against which Hancock made 
his famous charge. 

My command had been withdrawn from position in 
the regular line, and a role was assigned me which no 
officer could covet if he had the least conception of the 
responsibilities involved. I was ordered to take position 
in rear of that salient, and as nearly equidistant as 
practicable from every point of the wide and threatened 
semicircle, to watch every part of it, to move quickly, 
without waiting for orders, to the support of any point 
that might be assaulted, and to restore, if possible, any 
breach that might be made. We were reserves to no 
one command, but to all commands occupying that 
entire stretch of works. It will be seen that, with no 
possibility of knowing when or where General Grant 
would make his next effort to penetrate our lines, the 
task to be performed by my troops was not an easy one, 
and that the tension upon the brain and nerves of one 
upon whom rested the responsibility was not light nor 
conducive to sleep. No serious breach of the lines 
occurred until the 10th, when a heavy column of Fed- 
erals swept over the Confederate breastworks and pen- 
etrated some distance in their rear. 


Burnside was at this time operating on Lee's right 
wing, while Warren, Hancock, and Mott concentrated 
upon our centre and assaulted with immense vigor. 
Warren and Mott were both driven back with heavy- 
loss, but the gallant Union commander, Upton, broke 
over the Confederate breastworks, capturing artillery 
and prisoners, and was sweeping in column to our rear. 
It was a critical moment, but my troops in reserve, 
being quickly joined by those of Daniel and Steuart, 
were thrown across Upton's front, and at the command 
" Fire ! " the Confederates poured consuming volleys into 
the Union ranks, wounding General Upton, shattering 
his forces, retaking the captured artillery, and reestab- 
lishing Lee's lines. General Daniel was killed while 
leading his men with characteristic impetuosity. The 
fighting on the 10th of May at Spottsylvania ended with 
this charge by the Federals and their bloody repulse, in 
which more than 5000 dead and wounded were left in 
front of the Confederate works. On the same day, but 
on a different field, the South sustained a great loss in 
the death of General J. E. B. Stuart, who was killed in 
a cavalry fight with Sheridan's command at Yellow 
Tavern, Virginia, within a few miles of the Confederate 
capital. Stuart had few equals as a commander of cav- 
alry on either side or in any war, and his fall was a 
serious blow to that branch of Lee's army. Stuart's 
temperament, his exuberance of spirit, his relish for 
adventure, and his readiness of resource in extremity, 
added to a striking personality and charm of manner 
which greatly enhanced his influence over his men, com- 
bined to make him an ideal leader for that dashing arm 
of the service. General Lee and his whole army, as well 
as the authorities at Richmond, were profoundly grieved 
at his fall. As soon as his death was reported, General 
Lee at once withdrew to his tent, saying : " I can scarcely 
think of him without weeping." 


Night and day my troops were on watch or moving. 
At one point or another, there was almost continuous 
fighting; but in comparison with what followed, this 
was only the muttering of a storm that was to break 
with almost inconceivable fury on the morning of the 
12th of May. 

During the night preceding May 12, 1864, the report 
brought by scouts of some unusual movements in Gen- 
eral Grant's army left little doubt that a heavy blow was 
soon to fall on some portion of the Confederate lines ; 
but it was impossible to obtain reliable information as 
to whether it was to descend upon some part of that 
wide and long crescent or upon one of the wings. It 
came at last where it was perhaps least expected — at a 
point on the salient from which a large portion of the 
artillery had been withdrawn for use elsewhere. 

Before daylight on May 12th the assault was made by 
Hancock, who during the night had massed his corps 
close to that extreme point of the semicircle which was 
held by the command of General Edward Johnson of 
Virginia. For several hours after sunrise dense clouds 
obscured the sun, and a heavy mist, which almost 
amounted to a rain, intensified the gloom. 

At about 4:30 or 5 a.m. a soldier, one of the vedettes 
stationed during the night at different points to listen 
for any unusual sounds, came hurriedly in from the 
front and said to me : " General, I think there 's some- 
thing wrong down in the woods near where General 
Edward Johnson's men are." 

" Why do you think so ? There 's been no unusual 
amount of firing." 

" No, sir ; there 's been very little firing. But I tell you, 
sir, there are some mighty strange sounds down there 
— something like officers giving commands, and a jumble 
of voices." 

In the next few minutes, before saddles could be 


strapped on the officers' horses and cartridge-boxes on 
the men, report after report in quick succession reached 
me, each adding its quota of information; and finally 
there came the positive statement that the enemy had 
carried the outer angle on General Edward Johnson's 
front and seemed to be moving in rear of our works. 
There had been, and still were, so few discharges of small 
arms (not a heavy gun had been fired) that it was diffi- 
cult to believe the reports true. But they were accurate. 

During the night Hancock had massed a large portion 
of General Grant's army in front of that salient, and so 
near to it that, with a quick rush, his column had gone 
over the breastworks, capturing General Edward John- 
son and General George Steuart and the great body of 
their men before these alert officers or their trained 
soldiers were aware of the movement. The surprise 
was complete and the assault practically unresisted. 
In all its details — its planning, its execution, and its fear- 
ful import to Lee's army— this charge of Hancock was 
one of that great soldier's most brilliant achievements. 

Meantime my command was rapidly moving by the 
flank through the woods and underbrush toward the 
captured salient. The mist and fog were so heavy that 
it was impossible to see farther than a few rods. 
Throwing out in front a small force to apprise us of our 
near approach to the enemy, I rode at the head of the 
main column, and by my side rode General Robert 
Johnson, who commanded a brigade of North Caro- 
linians. So rapidly and silently had the enemy moved 
inside of our works — indeed, so much longer time had 
he been on the inside than the reports indicated — that 
before we had moved one half the distance to the salient 
the head of my column butted squarely against Han- 
cock's line of battle. The men who had been placed in 
our front to give warning were against that battle line 
before they knew it. They were shot down or made 


prisoners. The sudden and unexpected blaze from 
Hancock's rifles made the dark woodland strangely lurid. 
General Johnson, who rode immediately at my side, was 
shot from his horse, severely but not, as I supposed, 
fatally wounded in the head. His brigade was thrown 
inevitably into great confusion, but did not break to the 
rear. As quickly as possible, I had the next ranking 
officer in that brigade notified of General Johnson's fall 
and directed him at once to assume command. He 
proved equal to the emergency. With great coolness 
and courage he promptly executed my orders. The 
Federals were still advancing, and every movement of 
the North Carolina brigade had to be made under heavy 
fire. The officer in charge was directed to hastily with- 
draw his brigade a short distance, to change front so as 
to face Hancock's lines, and to deploy his whole force in 
close order as skirmishers, so as to stretch, if possible, 
across the entire front of Hancock. This done, he was 
ordered to charge with his line of skirmishers the solid 
battle lines before him. His looks indicated some 
amazement at the purpose to make an attack which 
appeared so utterly hopeless, and which would have 
been the very essence of rashness but for the extremity 
of the situation. He was, however, full of the fire of 
battle and too good a soldier not to yield prompt and 
cheerful obedience. That order was given in the hope 
and belief that in the fog and mists which concealed 
our numbers the sheer audacity of the movement would 
confuse and check the Union advance long enough for 
me to change front and form line of battle with the 
other brigades. The result was not disappointing ex- 
cept in the fact that Johnson's brigade, even when so 
deployed, was still too short to reach across Hancock's 
entire front. This fact was soon developed: not by 
sight, but by the direction from which the Union bullets 
began to come. 


When the daring charge of the North Carolina brigade 
had temporarily checked that portion of the Federal 
forces struck by it, and while my brigades in the rear 
were being placed in position, I rode with Thomas G. 
Jones, the youngest member of my staff, into the inter- 
vening woods, in order, if possible, to locate Hancock 
more definitely. Sitting on my horse near the line of 
the North Carolina brigade, I was endeavoring to get a 
view of the Union lines, through the woods and through 
the gradually lifting mists. It was impossible, however,, 
to see those lines; but, as stated, the direction from 
which they sent their bullets soon informed us that they 
were still moving and had already gone beyond our 
right. One of those bullets passed through my coat 
from side to side, just grazing my back. Jones, who was 
close to me, and sitting on his horse in a not very erect 
posture, anxiously inquired : " General, did n't that ball 
hit you ? " 

" No," I said ; " but suppose my back had been in a 
bow like yours? Don't you see that the bullet would 
have gone straight through my spine ? Sit up or you '11 
be killed." 

The sudden jerk with which he straightened himself, 
and the duration of the impression made, showed that 
this ocular demonstration of the necessity for a soldier 
to sit upright on his horse had been more effective than 
all the ordinary lessons that could have been given. It 
is but simple justice to say of this immature boy that 
even then his courage, his coolness in the presence of 
danger, and his strong moral and mental characteristics 
gave promise of his brilliant future. 

The bullets from Hancock's rifles furnished the infor- 
mation which I was seeking as to the progress he had 
made within and along our earthworks. I then took 
advantage of this brief check given to the Union ad- 
vance, and placed my troops in line for a countercharge, 


■upon the success or failure of which the fate of the Con- 
federate army seemed to hang. General Lee evidently 
thought so. His army had been cut in twain by Han- 
cock's brilliant coup de main. Through that wide breach 
in the Confederate lines, which was becoming wider with 
every step, the Union forces were rushing like a swollen 
torrent through a broken mill-dam. General Lee knew, 
as did every one else who realized the momentous im- 
port of the situation, that the bulk of the Confederate 
army was in such imminent peril that nothing could 
rescue it except a counter-movement, quick, impetuous, 
and decisive. Lee resolved to save it, and, if need be, 
to save it at the sacrifice of his own life. With perfect 
self -poise, he rode to the margin of that breach, and ap- 
peared upon the scene just as I had completed the align- 
ment of my troops and was in the act of moving in that 
crucial countercharge upon which so much depended. 
As he rode majestically in front of my line of battle, 
with uncovered head and mounted on Old Traveller, 
Lee looked a very god of war. Calmly and grandly, 
he rode to a point near the centre of my line and turned 
his horse's head to the front, evidently resolved to lead in 
person the desperate charge and drive Hancock back or 
perish in the effort. I knew what he meant; and 
although the passing moments were of priceless value, 
I resolved to arrest him in his effort, and thus save to 
the Confederacy the life of its great leader. I was 
at the centre of that line when General Lee rode to it. 
With uncovered head, he turned his face toward Hancock's 
advancing column. Instantly I spurred my horse across 
Old Traveller's front, and grasping his bridle in my 
hand, I checked him. Then, in a voice which I hoped 
might reach the ears of my men and command their at- 
tention, I called out, " General Lee, you shall not lead 
my men in a charge. No man can do that, sir. Another 
is here tor that purpose. These men behind you are 


Georgians, Virginians, and Carolinians. They have 
never failed you on any field. They will not fail you 
here. Will you, boys?" The response came like a 
mighty anthem that must have stirred his emotions as 
no other music could have done. Although the answer 
to those three words, "Will you, boys?" came in the 
monosyllables, "No, no, no ; we '11 not fail him," yet they 
were doubtless to him more eloquent because of their 
simplicity and momentous meaning. But his great 
heart was destined to be quickly cheered by a still sub- 
limer testimony of their deathless devotion. As this 
first thrilling response died away, I uttered the words 
for which they were now fully prepared. I shouted to 
General Lee, "You must go to rear." The echo, "Gen- 
eral Lee to the rear, General Lee to the rear ! " rolled back 
with tremendous emphasis from the throats of my men ; 
and they gathered around him, turned his horse in the 
opposite direction, some clutching his bridle, some his 
stirrups, while others pressed close to Old Traveller's 
hips, ready to shove him by main force to the rear. I 
verily believe that, had it been necessary or possible, they 
would have carried on their shoulders both horse and 
rider to a place of safety. 

This entire scene, with all its details of wonderful pathos 
and deep meaning, had lasted but a few minutes, and yet 
it was a powerful factor in the rescue of Lee's army. It 
had lifted these soldiers to the very highest plane of 
martial enthusiasm. The presence of their idolized 
commander-in-chief, his purpose to lead them in person, 
his magnetic and majestic presence, and the spontaneous 
pledges which they had just made to him, all conspired 
to fill them with an ardor and intensity of emotion such 
as have rarely possessed a body of troops in any war. 
The most commonplace soldier was uplifted and trans- 
formed into a veritable Ajax. To say that every man m 
those brigades was prepared for the most heroic work or 


to meet a heroic death would be but a lame description 
of the impulse which seemed to bear them forward in 
wildest transport. Fully realizing the value of such 
inspiration for the accomplishment of the bloody task 
assigned them, I turned to my men as Lee was forced 
to the rear, and reminding them of their pledges to him, 
and of the fact that the eyes of their great leader were 
still upon them, I ordered, "Forward I" With the fury 
of a cyclone, and almost with its resistless power, they 
rushed upon Hancock's advancing column. With their 
first terrific onset, the impetuosity of which was inde- 
scribable, his leading lines were shivered and hurled 
back upon their stalwart supports. In the inextricable 
confusion that followed, and before Hancock's lines could 
be reformed, every officer on horseback in my division, 
the brigade and regimental commanders, and my own 
superb staff, were riding among the troops, shouting in 
unison : " Forward, men, forward ! " But the brave line 
officers on foot and the enthused privates needed no 
additional spur to their already rapt spirits. Onward 
they swept, pouring their rapid volleys into Hancock's 
confused ranks, and swelling the deafening din of battle 
with their piercing shouts. Like the debris in the track 
of a storm, the dead and dying of both armies were left 
in the wake of this Confederate charge. In the mean- 
time the magnificent troops of Ramseur and Rodes were 
rushing upon Hancock's dissolving corps from another 
point, and Long's artillery and other batteries were pour- 
ing a deadly fire into the broken Federal ranks. Han- 
cock was repulsed and driven out. Every foot of the 
lost salient and earthworks was retaken, except that 
small stretch which the Confederate line was too short 
to cover. 

These glorious troops had redeemed the pledge which 
they had sent ringing through the air, thrilling the spirit 
of Lee : " No, we will not fail him." Grandly had they 


redeemed it, and at fearful cost; but the living were 
happy, and I verily believe that if the dead could have 
spoken, they, too, would have assured him of their 
compensation in the rescue of his army Among the 
gallant men who gave up their lives here was the accom- 
plished and knightly Major Daniel Hale of Maryland, who 
served upon General Early's staff He was so wrought up 
by the enthusiasm which fired the troops that he insisted 
on accompanying me through the battle. Riding at my 
side, and joining in the exultant shouts of the men over 
the wild pursuit, he had passed unscathed through the 
heaviest fire ; but at the very climax of the victory he 
fell dead upon the recaptured breastworks as we spurred 
our horses across them. 1 

If speculation be desired as to what would have been 
the result of failure in that fearful assault upon Hancock, 
some other pen must be invoked for the task. It is 
enough for me to repeat in this connection that the two 
wings of Lee's army had been completely and widely 
severed; that Hancock, who was justly called "the 
Superb," and who was one of the boldest of fighters 
and most accomplished of soldiers, was in that breach 
and literally revelling in his victory, as evidenced by his 

1 General A. L. Long, who served for a time on General Lee's staff as military 
secretary, describes, in his "Memoirs of Lee," p. 338, the effort of the com- 
mander-in-chief to lead my troops in the desperate charge, and says : " Dur- 
ing the hottest portion of this engagement, when the Federals were pouring 
through the broken Confederate lines and disaster seemed imminent, General 
Lee rode forward and took his position at the head of General Gordon's col- 
umn, then preparing to charge. Perceiving that it was his intention to lead the 
charge, Gordon spurred hastily to his side, seized the reins of his horse, and 
excitedly cried : ' General Lee, this is no place for you. . . . These are 
Virginians and Georgians— men who have never failed, and they will not 
fail now. Will you, boys? ' " Then, giving the thrilling reply of the men, 
and describing my order and appeal to them, General Long adds: "The 
charge that followed was fierce and telling, and the Federals, who had 
entered the lines, were hurled back before the resolute advance of Gordon's 
gallant men. The works were retaken, the Confederate line again established, 
and an impending disaster converted into a brilliant victory " 


characteristic field despatch, to General Grant : " I have 
used up Johnson and am going into Early" ; that through 
this fearful breach Grant could quickly hurl the bulk of 
his army upon the right and left flanks of Lee's wings, 
which were now cleft asunder; and that Lee himself 
thought that the time had come, as such times do come 
in the experience of all truly great leaders, when the 
crisis demanded that the commander-in-chief should in 
person lead the " forlorn hope." 

Long afterward, when the last bitter trial at Appo- 
mattox came, Lee's overburdened spirit recurred to that 
momentous hour at Spottsylvania, and he lamented that 
he had not been permitted to fall in that furious charge 
or in some subsequent battle. 

As above stated, there was a short stretch of the Con- 
federate works still left in dispute. All that portion to 
the right of the salient, the salient itself over which 
Hancock had charged, and where General Edward John- 
son and his troops were captured, and a portion of our 
works to the left of the salient, had been retaken. There 
was not one Union soldier left with arms in his hands 
inside of that great crescent. All had been repulsed and 
driven out; but these daring men in blue still stood 
against the outer slope of the short line of intrenchment 
which had not been struck by the Confederate hurricane. 

There on that short stretch of breastworks occurred 
the unparalleled fighting of which I have made brief 
mention. The questions have often been asked: Why 
did the commanders of the two armies put forth such 
herculean efforts over so short a line? In what re- 
spect was this small space of earthworks so essential to 
either army as to justify the expenditure of tons of lead 
and barrels of blood? I will endeavor to make clear 
the answer to these very natural inquiries. That short 
reach of works was an integral part of Lee's battle line. 
The Confederates held the inside of it, the Federals the 


outside. These high-spirited American foemen were 
standing against the opposite slopes of the same works, 
and so close together that they could almost thrust their 
bayonets into one another's breasts. If Lee could drive 
Grant's men from the outer slope his entire line would 
be completely reestablished. If Grant could drive the 
Confederates from the inner slope he would hold a breach 
in their lines, narrow it is true, but still a breach, through 
which he might again force his way, riving Lee's army 
a second time, as the rail-splitter's wedge rives the 
timber as it is driven into the narrow crack. Therefore, 
the complete possession by the Federals of that disputed 
section meant to Grant a coveted opportunity. To Lee 
it meant a serious menace. Neither could afford to sur- 
render so important a point without a desperate struggle ; 
and the followers of both seemed intuitively to compre- 
hend the situation, and to be prepared for any exaction 
of blood or life which it might make upon them. 

Of that struggle at Spottsylvania I write as an eye- 
witness and not from hearsay. It was a drama of three 
great acts. The first act was Hancock's charge. The 
second was the Confederate countercharge. The third 
and last was the night-and-day wrestle of the giants on 
the same breastworks. The whole of that long and gory 
drama upon which the curtain rose in the morning mists 
of the 12th, and did not fall for more than twenty hours, 
is as vivid and real to me now as it was the day after it 
was enacted. Each act of it differed from the preceding 
act in no respect except in shifting the scene from one 
bloody phase to another still more bloody, from its begin- 
ning with Hancock's charge in the darkness to its end- 
ing twenty hours later in the succeeding night, amidst 
the incessant flashes of the battle-storm. Its second 
act had been played under Lee's eye, and largely by that 
splendid soldiery whom it was my fortune and pride to 
command j but even that did not end their share of the 


performance. As soon as it was ascertained that the Con- 
federate lines had been too short to stretch across the 
whole of the wide-spreading crescent, and that the outer 
slope of a portion of Lee's works was still held by Grant's 
stalwart fighters, the third and last act of that memor- 
able performance was opened. Under my orders, and under 
cover of the intrenchment, my men began to slip to the 
left a few feet at a time, in order to occupy, unobserved 
if possible, that still open space. The ditch along which 
they slowly glided, and from which the earth had been 
thrown to form the embankment, favored them; but 
immediately opposite to them and within a few feet of 
them on the outer side stood their keen-eyed, alert 
foemen, holding to their positions with a relentless grip. 
This noiseless sliding process had not proceeded far be- 
fore it was discovered by the watchful men in blue. The 
discovery was made at the moment when Lee and Grant 
began to hurl their columns against that portion of the 
works held by both. Thus was inaugurated that roll of 
musketry which is likely to remain without a parallel, at 
least in the length of time it lasted. 

Mounting to the crest of the embankment, the Union 
men poured upon the Confederates a galling fire. To 
the support of the latter other Confederate commands 
quickly came, crowding into the ditches, clambering up 
the embankment's side, and returning volley for volley. 
Then followed the mighty rush from both armies, filling 
the entire disputed space. Firing into one another's faces, 
beating one another down with clubbed muskets, the 
front ranks fought across the embankment's crest almost 
within an arm's reach, the men behind passing up to 
them freshly loaded rifles as their own were emptied. 
As those in front fell, others quickly sprang forward to 
take their places. On both sides the dead were piled in 
heaps. As Confederates fell their bodies rolled into the 
ditch, and upon their bleeding forms their living com- 


rades stood, beating back Grant's furiously charging 
columns. The bullets seemed to fly in sheets. Before 
the pelting hail and withering blast the standing timber 
fell. The breastworks were literally drenched in blood. 
The coming of the darkness failed to check the raging 
battle. It only served to increase the awful terror of 
the scene. 

As I now recall that scene, looking back to it over 
the intervening years and with the calmer thought and 
clearer perceptions that come in more advanced age, I 
am still more deeply impressed with the conviction that, 
considered in all its phases, this battle between Ameri- 
cans on the 12th of May and the succeeding night at 
Spottsylvania has no parallel in the annals of war. 
Considered merely in their sanguinary character, — the 
number of lives lost, the area over which they extended, 
and the panorama presented by vast armies manoeu- 
vring, charging, repelling, retreating, and reforming, — 
many of the battles of our Civil War surpassed it. 
Among these were Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Chancel- 
lorsville, Cold Harbor, the battles around Atlanta, 
Fredericksburg, Sharpsburg, or Antietam, and perhaps 
Shiloh and Franklin, Tennessee. But to Spottsylvania 
history will accord the palm, I am sure, for having fur- 
nished an unexampled muzzle-to-muzzle fire ; the longest 
roll of incessant, unbroken musketry ; the most splendid 
exhibition of individual heroism and personal daring 
by large numbers, who, standing in the freshly spilt 
blood of their fellows, faced for so long a period and at 
so short a range the flaming rifles as they heralded the 
decrees of death. 

This heroism was confined to neither side. It was 
exhibited by both armies, and in that hand-to-hand 
struggle for the possession of the breastworks it seemed 
almost universal. It would be a commonplace truism 
to say that such examples will not be lost to the Re- 


public. The thought has found its expression in a 
thousand memorial addresses in every section of the 
Union ; but in the spectacle then, as in the contempla- 
tion now, there was much that was harrowing as well 
as inspiring. The gifted Father Ryan, Southern patriot 
and poet, writing of the South's sacrifices in war, of her 
sufferings in final defeat, and of the record made by her 
sons, said: 

There 's a glory in gloom, 
And a grandeur in graves. 

And he wrote truly. The pathos of this wail, like that 
of the Roman adage, " Dulce et decorum est pro patria 
mori," or of those still nobler words, " The blood of the 
martyrs is the seed of the church," will impress every 
one who reads it and who appreciates the grandeur of a 
man who is ready to die for his convictions. 1 

1 As proof that the description I have given of the horrible scenes of the 
12th of May is not overdrawn, and that no language could exaggerate either 
the heroism or the horrors of that battle, I give two extracts from Northern 
writers. Swinton, in his " History of the Army of the Potomac," says : " Of 
all the struggles of the war, this was perhaps the fiercest and most deadly." 
He then describes the charges, and states that the fearful slaughter con- 
tinued "till the ground was literally covered with piles of the dead and the 
woods in front of the salient were one hideous Golgotha." 

General Horace Porter, of General Grant's staff, says : " The battle near 
the ' Angle ' was probably the most desperate engagement in modern war- 
fare. . . . Rank after rank was riddled by shot and shell and bayonet 
thrusts, and finally sank, a mass of torn and mutilated corpses. . . . Trees 
over a foot and a half in diameter were cut completely in two by the inces- 
sant musketry fire. . . . We had not only shot down an army, but also a 
forest. . . . Skulls were crushed with clubbed muskets, and men were 
stabbed to death with swords and bayonets thrust between the logs of the 
parapet which separated the combatants. . . . Even the darkness . . . 
failed to stop the fierce contest, and the deadly strife did not cease till 
after midnight." General Porter then describes the scene which met him 
on his visit to that Angle the next day, and says that the dead " were piled 
upon each other in some places four layers deep. . . . Below the mass of 
fast-decaying corpses, the convulsive twitching of limbs and the writhing of 
bodies showed that there were wounded men still alive and struggling to 
extricate themselves from their horrid entombment." 



A surprising capture— Kind treatment received by prisoners — Five 
rainy days of inaction— Fighting resumed on May 18— Hancock's 
corps ordered to the assault— General Grant's order to Meade: 
"Where Lee goes, there you ■will go also " — How. Lee turned the 
tables— Fighting it out on this line all summer— Lee's men still 
resolute after the "Wilderness. 

AS Hancock's troops were driven out of our lines on 
the morning of the 12th, the commander of one of 
my regiments, Colonel Davant of the Thirty-eighth 
Georgia, became so enthused that he ran in pursuit 
ahead of his men, and passed some distance beyond the 
breastworks. A squad of Hancock's retreating men at 
once halted, and, in the quaint phraseology of the army, 
" quietly took him in." Davant, surprised to find him- 
self in the hands of Hancock's bluecoats instead of in 
the company of his Confederate comrades, attempted 
to give notice to his men in the rear that he was 
captured. His adjutant, John Gordon Law, my first 
cousin, heard the colonel's call, and sprang forward 
through the thicket to aid him. Law was likewise cap- 
tured, and was kept in prison to the end of the war. 
He is now a prominent minister of the Presbyterian 
Church, and delights to tell of the great kindness 
shown him by the guard to whose care he was assigned. 
The soldier in blue who guarded Law was a private, 
and had no possible use for a sword-belt ; but he wanted 
it, nevertheless. Instead of taking it forcibly, he paid 



for it, in greenbacks, the full price named by Law. In 
answer to Law's lament that he was going to prison 
without a change of. clothing or any blankets, this gen- 
erous Union boy offered to' sell him his own blankets. 
Law replied to the suggestion : 

" I have no money to pay you for your blankets, ex- 
cept Confederate bills and the greenbacks which you 
have just paid me for the sword-belt." 

" Oh, well," said the Federal private, " you can pay 
me for the blankets in Confederate money, and if I 
should be captured it will answer my purpose. If I 
should not be captured I will not need the money. 
Give me your 'graybacks' and you keep my 'green- 
backs ' to help you along during your stay in Fort 

The gallant General Edward Johnson of Virginia, 
who was captured at the salient in Hancock's charge, 
heartily reciprocated the cordial greetings of his West 
Point comrades into whose hands he came as prisoner 
of war, and received from them great consideration and 
soldierly courtesy. Such courtesy and kind treatment 
were frequently shown by the Confederates to captured 
Union officers and men, and it is a special pleasure, 
therefore, to record these instances of the same kindly 
spirit among the Federals. 

The appalling night scenes of the 12th did not mark 
the end of bloodshed at Spottsylvania, but only com- 
pelled a pause in the sickening slaughter long enough 
to give the armies time to take breath. 

General Lee had failed to drive the Federals from the 
outer slope of that short and disputed section of breast- 
works. General Grant had failed to drive the Confed- 
erates from the inner slope or to extend his possession 
of the works either to the right or to the left. Another 
test, therefore, of the mettle of the two armies was to 
be made on the same field. Five days passed, however, 


before the Union chief clearly indicated to his antagonist 
his next move. 

The weather was doubtless largely responsible for the 
delay. The continued rain had soaked the ground as 
well as the jackets and blankets of the men. It was 
impracticable to move artillery or wagon-trains; and 
while infantry could march and fight without bogging 
in the soft earth, there was naturally less of the fighting 
tendency under such conditions. Soldiers, in a certain 
sense, are machines ; but they are impressible, sentient 
machines. "With clothing drenched, gun-barrels wet, 
fingers benumbed, and bodies cold, the flaming enthusi- 
asm requisite for the charge was somewhat dormant. 

May 17th was a brighter day. The rain had ceased and 
the sun and brisk winds had dried the clothing of the 
men, and their spirits responded to the aspect of the 
bright spring morning. 

General Grant decided to make another desperate 
attempt to drive Lee from his position at Spottsylvania. 
On the morning of the 18th he sent Hancock's corps, 
reenforced by fully 8000 fresh troops, with Wright's 
corps to aid him, back to the point where the assault of 
May 12th had been made. Hancock had already twice 
passed over this " Bloody Angle," once in his successful 
advance and again upon his repulse by the Confederate 
countercharge. He was now to pass the third time 
over "Hell's Half Acre," another name by which this 
gory angle was known. In this last effort he was, 
however, to have the cooperation of that excellent 
corps commander, General Wright. The attack was to 
be made by daylight, and not in the darkness or under 
cloudy cover, as on the morning of the 12th, and not 
upon the same breastworks, but upon new Confederate 
intrenchments which had been constructed behind them. 
General Grant was to superintend the daring movement 
in person. 


In superb style and evidently with high hopes, the 
Union army moved to the assault. The Confederates, 
although their numbers had been materially decreased 
by the casualties of battle and withdrawals from this 
left wing to strengthen our right, were ready for them ; 
and as Hancock's and Wright's brave men climbed over 
the old abandoned works and debouched from the inter- 
vening bushes, a consuming fire of grape, canister, and 
Minie balls was poured in incessant volleys upon them. 
Such a fire was too much for any troops. They first 
halted before it, and staggered. Then they rallied, 
moved forward, halted again, wavered, bent into irregu- 
lar zigzag lines, and at last broke in confusion and pre- 
cipitate retreat. Again and again they renewed the 
charge, but each assault ended, as the first, in repulse 
and heavy slaughter. 

Thus ended the second series of battles in which the 
Union commander had failed to drive the Confederate 
forces from the field. In both Lee had successfully 
repelled Grant's assaults— first in the Wilderness and 
now at Spottsylvania — and compelled him to seek other 
points at which to repeat his efforts. 

In speaking of the plans marked out by his chief 
before the opening of the campaign of 1864, General 
Porter says : " It was the understanding that Lee's army 
was to be the objective point of the Army of the Poto- 
mac, and it was to move against Richmond only in case 
Lee went there." General Porter further adds that 
General Grant's own words to Meade were, " Where Lee 
goes, there you will go also." And yet on the failure of 
these last desperate assaults upon Lee at Spottsylvania, 
General Porter represents his chief as writing " an 
order providing for a general movement by the left 
flank toward Richmond, to begin the next night." 

With a soldier's admiration for General Grant, I sub- 


mit that this order of May 18th is hardly consistent with 
his previously announced plans of looking for Lee's army, 
and for nothing else, nor with his instructions to Meade : 
" Where Lee goes, there you will go also." Lee was not 
going toward Richmond except as Grant went toward 
Richmond. He was not going in any direction. He 
was standing still at Spottsylvania and awaiting the 
pleasure of General Grant. He had been there for about 
ten days, and was showing no disposition whatever to 
run away. There was no difficulty in finding him, and 
it was not necessary for General Meade to go to the 
North Anna or toward Richmond to find Lee in order 
to obey intelligently the instructions, " there you will go 

General Lee first went into the Wilderness because 
General Grant had gone there, and Lee did not " get 
out of the Wilderness " until his antagonist had gone 
out and moved to another place. Lee moved to Spott- 
sylvania because the Union commander was moving 
there ; and any movement of General Meade away from 
Spottsylvania would be going where Lee was not. He 
was not on the Rappahannock, where the Union com- 
mander proposed to make his base ; he was not retreat- 
ing, he was not hiding. He was close by on the field 
which had been selected by his able antagonist, and was 
ready for a renewal of the struggle. 

Verily it would seem that Grant's martial shibboleth, 
" Where Lee goes, there you will go also," had been 
reversed; for, in literal truth, Meade was not going 
where Lee went, but Lee was going where Meade went. 
It was General Grant's intention that General Lee should 
learn from every Union cannon's brazen throat, from 
every hot muzzle of every Union rifle, that nothing could 
prevent the Army of the Potomac from following him 
until the Confederate hosts were swept from the over- 
land highways to Richmond. The impartial verdict of 


history, however, and the testimony of every bloody 
field on which these great American armies met in this 
overland campaign,, from the Wilderness to the water 
route and to the south side of the James, must necessa- 
rily be that the going where the other goes was more 
literally the work of Lee than of Grant. 

On May 11, 1864, at Spottsylvania, that remarkable 
letter was written to General Halleck by General Grant 
in which he used those words which became at once 
famous : "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes 
all summer." This declaration by the illustrious com- 
mander of the Union army evidenced that wonderful 
tenacity of purpose upon which General Lee had com- 
mented previously on the morning of the 7th in the 

General Grant was not quite explicit as to what he 
meant by " this line." If he meant the overland route 
to Richmond which McDowell and Pope and Burnside 
and Hooker had each essayed and on which each had 
failed, as distinguished from the water route by the 
James River, which McClellan had attempted, General 
Grant found reasons to change his mind before the 
summer was ended. He did not "fight it out on this 
line"; for, long before the "all summer" limit which he 
had set was reached, the Union army found itself on an 
entirely different line— the James River or McClellan 
line. It will be noted that this celebrated letter of 
General Grant was written prior to the twenty hours of 
death-struggle on the 12th of May. Had he waited 
forty-eight hours, that letter probably never would have 
been penned. 

Martin Luther once said : " Great soldiers make not 
many words, but when they speak the deed is done." 
General Grant measured up to Martin Luther's stan- 
dard. He was a soldier of prompt and resolute action 
and of few words ; but the few words he did speak in 


that letter to General Halleck would now seem to indi- 
cate that he overestimated the value of numbers and 
underestimated the steadfastness of the small army that 
opposed him. He was led to say to General Halleck in 
that same letter: "I am satisfied that the enemy are 
very shaky, and are only kept up to the mark by the 
greatest exertion on the part of their officers." This 
opinion of the morale of Lee's army General Grant had 
abundant reasons to change, as he did to change his 
determination to " fight it out on this line if it takes 
all summer." The simple truth is, as General Grant 
afterward must have learned, there was no period of the 
war, since the day on which Lee assumed the command, 
when his army as a whole was less "shaky," more stead- 
fast, more self-reliant, more devoted to its great leader 
and to the Southern cause. There was no period when 
that army more constantly exhibited " a spirit yet un- 
quelled and high" than during the fearful experiences 
of 1864. 

Fragments of broken iron are welded closest and 
strongest in the hottest fires. So the shattered corps 
of Lee's army seemed to be welded together by Grant's 
hammering— by the blood and the sweat and the fury 
of the flames that swept over and around them. In the 
tangled jungles of the Wilderness ; through the inces- 
sant uproar by day and night at Spottsylvania ; on the 
reddened banks of the North Anna ; amidst the sicken- 
ing slaughter of Cold Harbor, — everywhere, and on every 
field where the American armies met in deadly grapple, 
whether behind breastworks or in the open, whether 
assaulting or repelling, whether broken by the resistless 
impact or beating back with clubbed muskets the head- 
long charges of Grant, — these worn and battered soldiers 
of Lee seemed determined to compensate him for his 
paucity of numbers by a self-immolation and a steadfast 
valor never surpassed, if ever equalled. 


This estimate of the marvellous courage displayed by 
Lee's men will not be regarded as too partial when the 
salient facts of this campaign are recalled. 

I might safely rest the overwhelming vindication of 
these Southern soldiers against the statement of General 
Grant that they were " shaky " on the single and signal 
fact that, from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor inclusive, 
in the brief space of twenty-eight days, they had placed 
hors du combat about as many men as Lee com- 
manded, killing, wounding, or capturing one of Grant's 
men for every Confederate in Lee's army. Or, to state 
the fact in different form, had General Grant inflicted 
equal damage upon Lee's troops, the last Confederate of 
that army would have been killed, wounded, or captured^ 
still leaving General Grant with an army very much 
larger than any force that had been under Lee's com- 
mand at any period of the campaign. 

Of course this wonderful disparity of relative losses is 
due in a measure to the fact that the Confederate 
army acted generally upon the defensive, on shorter lines, 
and behind intrenchments. This, however, was not 
always true. In the two days of terrific combat in the 
Wilderness, neither side was protected by breastworks, 
except those hastily constructed by both sides as the 
men were halted in line of battle. Both sides were en- 
gaged in assaulting and repelling. The lines of both 
were repeatedly broken by furious charges and counter- 
charges. But Lee's army remained upon the field until 
its great antagonist had selected another field of conflict. 

At Spottsylvania also the armies at first met and 
wrestled upon exactly equal footing, as far as breast- 
works were concerned; and when, finally, Lee's rude 
intrenchments were hastily thrown up, they were thrice 
carried by Grant's determined assault, by the resistless 
momentum of his concentrated columns, and carried 
under such conditions as would have imperilled the 


safety, if not the very existence, of an ordinary army — 
conditions which would assuredly have filled Lee's sol- 
diers with panic, had they been in any sense " shaky," 
as General Grant supposed them to be. 

At the very moment when the Union commander was 
penning that letter to General Halleck, there must have 
been sounding in his ears the ominous notes of Hancock's 
preparations for the momentous movement to occur the 
next morning, before the dawn of the 12th of May. I 
repeat that had General Grant waited a few hours he 
would have found a word of exactly opposite import to 
convey to General Halleck his impression as to the morale 
of Lee's army. He would have found the attenuated 
line of my troops thrown quickly and defiantly across 
Hancock's formidable front. He would have found these 
Confederates standing calmly in the open field, waiting 
the command to rush upon Hancock's advancing legions, 
and filled with more anxiety for Lee's safety than for 
their own, thus exhibiting that true intrepidity which is 
begotten only in bravest breasts amid greatest perils. 
He would have seen these Confederates in the next mo- 
ment, uplifted and inspired by Lee's presence, rushing 
upon Hancock's advancing column, and hurling it back 
in the wildest confusion. General Grant was too thought- 
ful, too great a soldier, to misinterpret this sudden tran- 
sition of his army from exultant victory to depressing 
defeat. He was too experienced a warrior to call an 
army " shaky " when one of its thin lines of battle with 
no supports could hurl itself without hesitation, without 
a tremor, in a whirlwind of enthusiasm, against .tenfold 
its number. Had that letter to General Halleck been 
delayed until he decided to withdraw from Spottsylvania, 
from the Pamunkey, from the North Anna, and from 
Cold Harbor, where many thousands of his brave men 
lay breathless and cold, he would more probably have 
told General Halleck that he would not " fight it out on 


this line," because the enemy seemed to gather addi- 
tional hope and confidence and courage on every field 
of conflict. 

Bourrienne, who served with Napoleon as private 
secretary, represents the Austrian general, who had been 
hammered and baffled at every turn by the great 
Frenchman, as supremely disgusted with the Napoleonic 
style of fighting. He regarded the little Corsican as an 
untrained boy, a mere tyro in the art of war, violating 
all its recognized rules, turning up with his army at the 
oddest places, now on the Austrian flank, now in the 
rear and then in front, observing none of the established 
laws of tactics or strategy, but unceremoniously knock- 
ing the Austrians to pieces in a manner that was truly 
shocking to all scientific ideas of campaigning. 

I do not pretend to give Bourrienne's words, but the 
above is a fair though somewhat liberal interpretation 
of his statement. It is not possible to rely upon any 
representations made by Bourrienne, for his character 
did not command the confidence and respect of honor- 
able men. If he had lived in the Southern States of 
America after the war and during the period of recon- 
struction, he would have been designated, in the pictur- 
esque slang of the period, as a " scalawag " ; for he not 
only deserted Napoleon in his final defeat and deepest 
woe, but joined his enemies, took office from the victors, 
perverted his public trust to private gain, and ended 
his career dishonored in the estimation of all true men. 
But, whatever may be said of Bourrienne's statement, it 
is certain that Napoleon's methods furnished frequent 
surprises to the commanders of opposing armies. And 
the unbiassed historian, in reviewing and analyzing the 
moves made by Grant on the vast chess-board reaching 
from the Wilderness to Petersburg, and the partial 
checkmates made by Lee in every game, will be forced 
to the conclusion that Lee's ubiquity must have been as 


great a marvel to Grant as Napoleon's was to the 
astounded Austrian. On May 5th Grant hurried his mag- 
nificent army, unmolested by even a picket shot, across 
the Rapidan to turn Lee's right ; but the great leader of 
the Union forces found his wily antagonist not only 
checking him in the Wilderness, but on the next day 
(the 6th) turning the Union right flank and sweeping 
with the destructive energy of a whirlwind to the Union 

Protected from observation by the density of the for- 
est, Grant withdrew his bleeding army, and, under the 
cover of night, pressed with all possible speed to Spott- 
sylvania; but there again he found Lee's vanguard 
across the line of his march, disputing his further ad- 
vance. Again, after more than ten days of fighting and 
manoeuvring, of alternate successes and reverses, of 
desperate charges and deadly repulses, capturing breast- 
works only to see them recaptured, General Grant in- 
augurated the third and fourth and subsequent swiftly 
recurring movements, seeking by forced marches to 
plant his army in advantageous fields on Lee's right, 
only to find the Southern leader in possession of the 
coveted stronghold and successfully resisting all efforts 
to dislodge him. As Lee divined Grant's movement to 
Spottsylvania almost at the very instant the movement 
was taking shape in Grant's brain, so on each succeeding 
field he read the mind of the Union commander, and 
developed his own plans accordingly. There was no 
mental telepathy in all this. Lee's native and tutored 
genius enabled him to place himself in Grant's position, 
to reason out his antagonist's mental processes, to trace 
with accuracy the lines of his marches, and to mark on 
the map the points of future conflict which were to 
become the blood-lettered mile-posts marking Grant's 
compulsory halts and turnings in his zigzag route to 
Richmond. Finally, at Cold Harbor, where a supreme 


effort was made to rip open Lee's lines by driving 
through them the stiff and compact Union columns, and 
where the slaughtered Federals presented the ghastliest 
scene ever witnessed on any field of the war, General 
Grant decided promptly and wisely to abandon further 
efforts on the north side and cross to the south side of 
the James River. 

After this sanguinary repulse of the Union forces at 
Cold Harbor, a report gained circulation, and was gen- 
erally credited, that General Grant's troops refused to 
obey the orders of their officers to advance in another 
assault. This statement, which it was difficult for me 
to believe at the time, has found a place in several books, 
written by both Northern and Southern authors. I am 
glad to find this grave injustice to the brave men of the 
Union army corrected by General Porter in his " Cam- 
paigning with Grant." Shocking as had been the 
slaughter of Union troops in their last charges, costly 
and hopeless as succeeding assaults must have appeared 
to the practised eye and sharpened comprehension of 
Grant's veterans, they still seemed ready for the sacri- 
fice if demanded by necessity or ordered by the com- 
manding general. As a Confederate who had occasion 
to observe the conduct of these men on many fields, I 
am glad that General Porter has given to posterity his 
own witness of a pathetic scene which eloquently 
refutes the slander of these brave men in blue. With 
the " appalling revelry " of the last futile onsets still 
ringing in their ears, with the unburied bodies of their 
dead comrades lying in full view on the blood-stained 
stretch of wooded swamp and plain at Cold Harbor, 
these self-immolating men were calmly and courage- 
ously preparing for the next charge and sacrifice. Ac- 
cording to General Porter, who was in a position to 
know whereof he affirms, there was not the slightest 
indication of rebellion or defiance of orders, not a trace 


of stubbornness or sullenness in the bearing of these 
battered Federals ; but they were quietly sewing to their 
jackets strips of cloth marked with their names, in order 
that their dead bodies might be identified the next day 
amidst the prospective debris of the coming storm. It 
gives me genuine pleasure to aid as far as I can in cor- 
recting the wrong which this ill-founded report has 
done to these high-spirited Americans. 



The movement upon Lynchburg— Hunter's sudden panic— Devastation 
in the Valley— Burning of private homes— Lee's orders against 
destruction of private property— Washington threatened— The battle 
of Monocacy— A brave charge— The defeat of General Lew Wallace. 

AS the Union army prepared to cross the James, with 
the purpose of surprising the small Confederate 
force at Petersburg and capturing the city, my command 
under General Early began, on June 13, 1864, the move- 
ment to check Hunter's raid upon Lynchburg, By rapid 
marching, and by seizing all railroad trains, passenger 
and freight, and loading the men into box and stock cars, 
Early's little army reached Lynchburg very soon after 
General Hunter's Union forces occupied the adjacent 
hills. There was no fighting of consequence at Lynch- 
burg; and it was then and still is incomprehensible to 
me that the small force under Early seemed to have 
filled Hunter with sudden panic. His hurried exit from 
Lynchburg was in marked contrast with his confident 
advance upon it, and suggests an improvement in the 
adage : 

He who fights and runs away 
Will five to fight another day ; 

for he ran away without any fight at all— at least, with- 
out any demonstration that could be called a fight. He 



not only fled without a test of relative strength, but fled 
precipitately, and did not stop until he had found a safe 
retreat beyond the mountains toward the Ohio. 

If I were asked for an opinion as to this utterly cause- 
less fright and flight, I should be tempted to say that 
conscience, the inward monitor which " makes cowards 
of us all," was harrowing General Hunter, and causing 
him to see an avenger wrapped in every gray jacket be- 
fore him. He was not a Virginian; but his Virginia 
kinsmen almost to a man were enlisted in the struggle 
for Southern independence. One of his relatives, Major 
Robert W. Hunter, was a member of my staff. Another, 
the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, was Confederate Secretary of 
State. In the Valley of Virginia dwelt many of his 
kindred, who were often made to feel the sting of his 
military power. Had he been a Virginian, however, his 
support of the Union cause would have engendered 
no bitterness toward him if he had worn his uniform 
worthily, remembering that he was an American soldier, 
bearing a high commission from the foremost and 
freest Republic of earth. General Lee's own sister was 
a Union woman, the wife of a Union officer; but that 
fact did not deprive her of the affectionate interest of 
her family, nor of the chivalric regard of Southern 
soldiers. It did not obliterate or apparently lessen in 
any degree her devotion to her brother, Robert E. Lee, 
nor her appreciation of him as a great soldier. In ex- 
pressing her loyalty to her husband and the Union cause, 
and her hope for the triumph of the Federal armies, she 
would usually add a doubt as to their ability to " whip 
Robert." General Thomas, one of the ablest com- 
manders of the Union forces, was a Virginian, but he 
did not apply the torch to private homes or order the 
burning of his kindred's barns. Hence the esteem with 
which he will always be regarded by the Southern people. 

General Hunter must have possessed some high qual- 


ities, or he would not have been intrusted with the grave 
responsibilities which attach to the commander of a 
department; but it is hard to trace any evidences of 
knighthood in the wreck and ravage which marked the 
lines of his marches. He ordered the destruction of the 
Virginia Military Institute, one of the most important 
educational institutions in the State. It will be difficult 
to find any rule of civilized warfare or any plea of neces- 
sity which could justify General Hunter in the burning 
of these buildings. He could scarcely plead as an ex- 
cuse the fact that the boys of this school had marched 
down the Valley in a body, joined General Breckinridge, 
and aided materially in the brilliant victory at New 
Market over his predecessor, General Sigel. Upon any 
such ground the destruction of every university, college, 
and common school in the South could have been jus- 
tified ; for all of them were converting their pupils into 
soldiers. My youngest brother ran away from school 
before he was fifteen years old as captain of a company 
of schoolboys of his own age and younger, who reported 
in a body to General Joseph E. Johnston at Dalton for 
service. They were too young for soldiers, and General 
Johnston declined to accept them for any service except 
that of guarding a bridge across the Chattahoochee River, 
which they defended in gallant style. The Southern 
armies contained a very much larger proportion of boys 
under proper age than the Union armies, but there were 
notable instances of young Northern boys who demanded 
places in the fighting-line. General Grant's own son, 
now Brigadier-General Frederick D. Grant of the United 
States army, whose courtesy and consideration have won 
for him the esteem and friendship of the Southern people, 
wore a blue uniform and was under fire before he was 

General Hunter's campaign of destruction did not 
end with the burning of the Virginia Military Institute. 


The homes of Governor Letcher, of the Hon. Andrew 
Hunter, of Charles James Faulkner, whose wife was 
Hunter's relative; of Edmund Lee (a first cousin of 
General Lee), and of Alexander B. Boteler, were burned, 
with their entire contents; and only time enough was 
given the women and children to escape with their lives. 
Many other peaceful homes were burned under orders. 
Had General Hunter been captured at this time it would 
doubtless have been difficult to save him from the ven- 
geance of the troops. 

General Edward Johnson, who was captured by Han- 
cock in his brilliant charge at Spottsylvania (May 12th), 
and who knew General Hunter well in other days, 
described him as a noted duelist in early life, who had 
killed two of his brother officers in such combats. It 
was said that Jefferson Davis, who was at West Point 
with Hunter, consented to act as second in one of these 
duels. When the war was over, General Hunter made 
repeated but unavailing advances for reconciliation with 
his Southern relatives, among whom were some of the 
best families in Virginia. 

There was so much that was commendable, so much 
that was truly chivalrous, in both Union and Confederate 
armies, that I would gladly fill this book only with in- 
cidents illustrative of that phase of the war. It is im- 
possible, however, to write truthfully of the campaigns 
of 1864 in the Valley of Virginia without some allusion 
to those officers who left behind them the wide stretch 
of desolation through which we were called to pass. 

The official announcement of General Philip Sheridan, 
who was regarded, I believe, as the ablest cavalry leader 
of the Union army, that he had " destroyed over two 
thousand barns filled with wheat and hay and farming 
implements; over seventy mills filled with flour and 
wheat," etc., and that " the destruction embraces Luray 
valley, Little Fort valley, as well as the main valley," 


will give some conception of the indescribable suffering 
which the women and children of that beautiful region 
were made to endure. Gi-eneral Sheridan, as far as could 
be ascertained, did not imitate the example of General 
Hunter in burning private homes ; but homes without 
the means of support were no longer homes. With barns 
and mills and implements for tilling the soil all gone, 
with cattle, sheep, and every animal that furnished food 
to the helpless inmates carried off, they were dismal 
abodes of hunger, of hopelessness, and of almost meas- 
ureless woe. 

It is to be hoped that official records will show that 
this mode of warfare was not ordered by the authorities 
at Washington. It is impossible to believe that it could 
have been approved by President Lincoln, whose entire 
life, whose every characteristic, was a protest against 
needless oppression and cruelty. 

If General Sheridan was acting at that time under the 
orders of the Union commander-in-chief, I am constrained 
to believe that he interpreted his instructions with great 
laxity. I recall no act of General Grant in the imme- 
diate conduct of his campaigns that would indicate his 
disposition to bring upon any people such sweeping 
desolation. Nor can I recall any speech of his that can 
fairly be interpreted as expressing sympathy with Gen- 
eral Sherman in his declaration, " War is hell," or with 
Sherman's purpose to make it hell. General Grant's 
fame as a commander of armies in an enemy's country 
will, in the sober estimation of posterity, be the more last- 
ing because of the fact that his blows fell upon armed 
soldiery, and not upon defenceless private citizens. Un- 
less his instructions to Sheridan were specific, he can- 
not be held responsible for the torch that was applied to 
almost every kind of private property in the Virginia 
valleys. It would be almost as just to charge General Lee 
with responsibility for the burning of Chambersburg in 


the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania. This act of 
his subordinate was a great shock to General Lee's 
sensibilities. Although the destruction of Chambers- 
burg was wholly in the nature of reprisal for the whole- 
sale destruction of the Virginia valleys and the burning 
of Southern cities, yet it was so directly in contravention 
of General Lee's orders, and so abhorrent to the ideas 
and maxims with which he imbued his army, that a high- 
spirited Virginia soldier flatly refused to obey the order 
when directed by his superior officer to apply the torch 
to the city. That soldier, whose disobedience was 
prompted by the highest dictates of humanity, deserves 
a place of honor in history. He was not only a man of 
iron resolution and imperturbable courage, who fought 
from April, 1861, to April, 1865, and was repeatedly 
wounded in battle, but he was a fit representative of that 
noblest type of soldier who will inflict every legitimate 
damage on the enemy in arms against his people, but who 
scorns, even as a retaliatory measure, to wage war upon 
defenceless citizens and upon women and children. This 
knightly Southern soldier was Colonel "William E. Peters 
of the Twenty-first Virginia Cavalry, who has for forty- 
six years been a professor in the University of Virginia 
and at Emory and Henry College. He obeyed the order 
to move into Chambersburg with his troops and occupy 
the town, as he was not apprised of the purpose of its 
occupancy ; but when the next order reached him to move 
his men to the court-house, arm them with torches, and 
fire the town, his spirit rose in righteous revolt. He 
calmly but resolutely refused obedience, preferring to 
risk any consequences that disobedience might involve, 
rather than be instrumental in devoting defenceless in- 
habitants to so dire a fate. If all the officers who com- 
manded troops in that war, in which Americans fought 
one another so fiercely and yet so grandly, had possessed 
the chivalry of Colonel Peters, the history of the conflict 


would not have been blurred and blackened by such ugly 
records of widespread and pitiless desolation. Colonel 
Peters was promptly placed under arrest for disobedience 
to orders; but, prudently and wisely, he was never 
brought to trial. 

A number of Federal generals led armies through 
different portions of the South without leaving behind 
them any lasting marks of reckless waste. In all of 
General Grant's triumphant marches I do not believe he 
ever directly ordered or willingly permitted the burning 
of a single home. And of his illustrious opponent, 
General Robert E. Lee, I am impelled to say in this 
connection that of the world's great chieftains who have 
led armies into an enemy's territory, not one has left a 
nobler example to posterity in his dealings with non- 
combatants and in the protection which he afforded to 
private property. When the Confederates crossed the 
Potomac into Maryland in 1862, he issued the most 
stringent orders against all plundering and all straggling 
through the country. On one of his rides in rear of his 
lines he chanced to find one of Jackson's men with a 
stolen pig. This evidence of disregard of the explicit 
orders against pilfering so enraged General Lee that he 
ordered the soldier to be delivered to General Jackson 
and executed; but as Jackson was at the moment 
advancing in an attack, he directed that the soldier be 
placed in the front rank of his column, in order that he 
might be despatched by a Union rather than a Confed- 
erate bullet. The culprit went through the fire, how- 
ever, unscathed, and purchased redemption from the 
death penalty by his conspicuous courage. The repre- 
sentatives of foreign governments who visited General 
Lee and accompanied him for a time on his campaigns 
were impressed by the manifestations of his solicitude 
for the protection of private citizens and private prop- 
erty in the enemy's territory; and Colonel Freemantle 


of the English army, who accompanied General Lee in 
his invasion of Pennsylvania, has given to the world 
his testimony to the effect that there was no straggling 
into private homes, " nor were the inhabitants disturbed 
or annoyed by the soldiers." He adds that, in view of 
the ravages which he saw in the Valley of Virginia, " this 
forbearance was most commendable and surprising." 

" This forbearance," which I think posterity will unite 
in pronouncing " most commendable," was also a 
worthy response by the Confederate army to the wishes 
and explicit orders of its idolized commander. No 
comment that can be made, no eulogy that can ever be 
pronounced upon General Lee, can equal the force and 
earnestness of his own words embodied in his general 
order, issued at Chambersburg as his hitherto victorious 
army was just beginning its invasion of Pennsylvania. 
The order is here given in full. It was a source of 
special and poignant pain to General Lee that the very 
town in which this order was penned and issued should 
become, at a later period, the scene of retaliatory 
action. In the interest of civilized and Christian war- 
fare, and as an inspiration to American soldiers in all 
the future, these words of Lee ought to be printed and 
preserved in letters of gold : 

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia. 
Chambersburg, Pa., June 27, 1863. 
General Order No. 73. 

The commanding general has observed with marked satisfaction 
the conduct of the troops on the march, and confidently antici- 
pates results commensurate with the high spirit they have mani- 
fested. No troops could have displayed greater fortitude or 
better performed the arduous marches of the past ten days. 
Their conduct in other respects has, with few exceptions, been 
in keeping with their character as soldiers and entitles them to 
approbation and praise. 

There have, however, been instances of forgetfulness on the 


part of some that they have in keeping the yet unsullied repu- 
tation of the army, and that the duties exacted of us by civili- 
zation and Christianity are not less obligatory in the country 
of the enemy than „in our own. The commanding general 
considers that no greater disgrace could befall the army, and 
through it our whole people, than the perpetration of the bar- 
barous outrages upon the innocent and defenseless and the 
wanton destruction of private property that have marked the 
course of the enemy in our own country. Such proceedings not 
only disgrace the perpetrators and all connected with them, but 
are subversive of the discipline and efficiency of the army and 
destructive of the ends of our present movements. It must be 
remembered that we make war only on armed men, and that we 
cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered 
without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence 
has been excited by the atrocities of our enemy, and offending 
against Him to whom vengeance belongeth, without whose 
favor and support our efforts must all prove in vain. 

The commanding general, therefore, earnestly exhorts the 
troops to abstain with most scrupulous care from unnecessary 
or wanton injury to private property, and he enjoins upon all 
officers to arrest and bring to summary punishment all who 
shall in any way offend against the orders on this subject. 

R. E. Lee, General. 

Among the great warriors who gave special lustre to 
Roman arms, no one of them left a reputation more to 
be coveted by the true soldier than Scipio Africanus. 
In native gifts and brilliancy of achievements, he was 
perhaps the equal of Julius Caesar ; while in the nobler 
attributes of manly courtesy to womanhood, of magna- 
nimity to the defenceless who became subjects of his 
military power, in self-abnegation and faithful adherence 
to constitution and laws, he surpasses, I think, any 
warrior of his time. 

Lee exhibited everywhere all those lofty character- 
istics which have made the name of Scipio immortal. 
He not only possessed true genius,— the "gift that 


Heaven gives and which buys a place next to a king," — 
but he had what was better than genius — a heart whose 
every throb was in harmony with the teachings of the 
Great Captain whom he served. He had a spirit nat- 
urally robust and aggressive, but he made it loyally 
obedient to the precepts of the Divine Master. In the 
combination of great qualities, he will be adjudged in 
history as measuring up as few commanders have ever 
done to Scipio's lofty conception of the noblest soldier : 
the commander who could win victories, but who found 
more pleasure in the protection afforded defenceless citi- 
zens than in the disasters inflicted upon armed enemies. 

As the last of Hunter's men, who were worthy of a 
nobler leader, filed through the mountain passes in their 
westward flight, and the Southern troops in tattered 
gray were seen coming down the valley pikes, the relief 
felt by that suffering people was apparent on every 
hand. From every home on the pike along which 
Hunter had marched came a fervid welcome. 

With the hope of creating some apprehension for the 
safety of the national capital and thus inducing General 
Grant to slacken his hold on the Confederacy's throat, it 
was decided that we should again cross the Potomac 
and threaten Washington. The Federal authorities sent 
the dashing soldier, General Lew Wallace, — who after- 
ward became famous as the author of " Ben Hur," — 
to meet us with his army at Monocacy River, near 
Frederick City, Maryland. His business was to check the 
rash Southern invaders, and, if possible, to drive them 
back across the Potomac. 

The battle of Monocacy which ensued was short, 
decisive, and bloody. While the two armies, under the 
command respectively of Lew Wallace and Jubal Early, 
were contemplating each other from the opposite banks, 
my division was selected, not to prevent Wallace from 


driving us out of Maryland, but to drive him from our 
front and thus reopen the highway for our march upon 
the capital. My movement was down the right bank of 
the Monocacy to a fording-place below, the object being 
to cross the river and then turn upon the Federal 
stronghold. My hope and effort were to conceal the 
movement from "Wallace's watchful eye until my troops 
were over, and then apprise him of my presence on his 
side of the river by a sudden rush upon his left flank ; 
but General McCausland's brigade of Confederate cavalry 
had already gallantly attacked a portion of his troops, 
and he discovered the manoeuvre of my division before 
it could drag itself through the water and up the 
Monocacy's muddy and slippery banks. He at once 
changed front and drew up his lines in strong position 
to meet the assault. 

This movement presented new difficulties. Instead of 
realizing my hope of finding the Union forces still facing 
Early's other divisions beyond the river, giving my 
isolated command the immense advantage of the pro- 
posed flank attack, I found myself separated from all 
other Confederate infantry, with the bristling front of 
Wallace's army before me. In addition to this trouble, 
I found difficulties before unknown which strongly mili- 
tated against the probable success of my movement. 
Across the intervening fields through which we were to 
advance there were strong farm fences, which my 
men must climb while under fire. Worse still, those 
fields were thickly studded with huge grain-stacks 
which the harvesters had recently piled. They were so 
broad and high and close together that no line of battle 
could possibly be maintained while advancing through 
them. Every intelligent private in my command, as he 
looked over the field, must have known before we started 
that my battle-line would become tangled and confused 
in the attempt to charge through these obstructions. 


"With an able commander in my front, and his compact 
ranks so placed as to rake every foot of the field with 
their fire, with the certainty of having my lines broken 
and tangled by fences and grain-stacks at every rod of 
advance, it is not difficult to understand the responsi- 
bility of hazarding battle without supporting Confed- 
erate infantry in reach. The nerve of the best-trained 
and bravest troops is sorely taxed, even under most 
favorable conditions, when assaulting an enemy well 
posted, and pouring an incessant well-directed fire into 
their advancing ranks. To how much severer test of 
nerve were my troops to be subjected in this attempt to 
charge where the conditions forced them while under 
fire to break into column, halt and reform, and make 
another start, only to be broken again by the immovable 
stacks all over the field ! I knew, however, that if any 
troops in the world could win victory against such ad- 
verse conditions, those high-mettled Southern boys would 
achieve it there. 

En echelon by brigades from the right the movement 
began. As we reached the first line of strong and high 
fencing, and my men began to climb over it, they were 
met by a tempest of bullets, and many of the brave fel- 
lows fell at the first volley. But over they climbed or 
tumbled, and rushed forward, some of them halting to 
break down gaps in the fence, so that the mounted offi- 
cers might ride through. Then came the grain-stacks. 
Around them and between them they pressed on, with no 
possibility of maintaining orderly alignment or of re- 
turning any effective fire. Deadly missiles from Wal- 
lace's ranks were cutting down the line and company 
officers with their words of cheer to the men but half 
spoken. It was one of those fights where success de- 
pends largely upon the prowess of the individual soldier. 
The men were deprived of that support and strength 
imparted by a compact line, where the elbow touch of 


comrade with comrade gives confidence to each and sends 
the electric thrill of enthusiasm through all. But noth- 
ing could deter them. Neither the obstructions nor the 
leaden blast in their front could check them. The 
supreme test of their marvellous nerve and self-control 
now came. They had passed the forest of malign wheat- 
stacks; they had climbed the second fence and were in 
close proximity to Wallace's first line of battle, which 
stood firmly and was little hurt. The remaining officers, 
on horseback and on foot, rapidly adjusted their com- 
mands, and I ordered " Forward ! " and forward they 
went. I recall no charge of the war, except that of the 
12th of May against Hancock, in which my brave fellows 
seemed so swayed by an enthusiasm which amounted 
almost to a martial delirium; and the swell of the 
Southern yell rose high above the din of battle as they 
rushed upon the resolute Federals and hurled them back 
upon the second line. 

The Union lines stood firmly in this second position, 
bravely defending the railroad and the highway to 
Washington. Between the two hostile lines there was a 
narrow ravine down which ran a small stream of limpid 
water. In this ravine the fighting was desperate and at 
close quarters. To and fro the battle swayed across the 
little stream, the dead and wounded of both sides min- 
gling their blood in its waters ; and when the struggle 
was ended a crimsoned current ran toward the river. 
Nearly one half of my men and large numbers of the 
Federals fell there. Many of my officers went down, 
and General Clement A. Evans, the trusted leader of 
my largest brigade, was severely wounded. A Minie 
ball struck him in his left side, passing through a 
pocket of his coat, and carrying with it a number of 
pins, which were so deeply embedded that they were not 
all extracted for a number of years. But the execution 
of his orders was superintended by his staff officer, 


Major Eugene C. Gordon, who was himself severely 

In that vortex of fire my favorite battle-horse, pre- 
sented to me by my generous comrades, which had never 
hitherto been wounded, was struck by a Minie ball, and 
plunged and fell in the midst of my men, carrying me 
down with him. Ordinarily the killing of a horse in 
battle, though ridden by the commander, would scarcely 
be worth noting; but in this case it was serious. By 
his death I had been unhorsed in the very crisis of 
the battle. Many of my leading officers were killed 
or disabled. The chances for victory or defeat were 
at the moment so evenly balanced that a temporary 
halt or slight blunder might turn the scales. My staff 
were bearing orders to different portions of the field. But 
some thoughtful officer sent me a horse and I was again 

Wallace's army, after the most stubborn resistance 
and heavy loss, was driven from railroad and pike in 
the direction of Baltimore. The Confederate victory 
was won at fearful cost and by practically a single 
division, but it was complete, and the way to Washing- 
ton was opened for General Early's march. 



The Confederate army within sight of Washington— The city could 
have been taken — Reasons for the retreat— Abandonment of plan 
to release Confederate prisoners— The Winchester campaign — Assault 
on Sheridan's front— Sudden rally— Retreat of Early's arnry— The 
battle of Fisher's Hill. 

ON July 11, 1864, the second day after the battle of 
Monocacy, we were at the defences of Washington. 
We were nearer to the national capital than any armed 
Confederates had ever been, and nearer to it than any 
Federal army had ever approached to Richmond. It has 
been claimed that at the time we reached these outer 
works they were fully manned by troops. This is a mis- 
take. I myself rode to a point on those breastworks at 
which there was no force whatever. The unprotected 
space was broad enough for the easy passage of Early's 
army without resistance. It is true that, as we ap- 
proached, Rodes's division had driven in some skir- 
mishers, and during the day (July 11th) another small 
affair had occurred on the Seventh Street road ; but all 
the Federals encountered on this approach could not have 
manned any considerable portion of the defences. Un- 
doubtedly we could have marched into Washington ; but 
in the council of war called by General Early there was 
not a dissenting opinion as to the impolicy of entering 
the city. While General Early and his division com- 
manders were considering in jocular vein the propriety 



of putting General John C. Breckinridge at the head of 
the column and of escorting him to the Senate chamber 
and seating him again in the Vice-President's chair, the 
sore-footed men in gray were lazily lounging about the 
cool waters of Silver Spring, picking blackberries in 
the orchards of Postmaster-General Blair, and merrily 
estimating the amount of gold and greenbacks that 
would come into our possession when we should seize 
the vaults of the United States Treasury. The privates 
also had opinions about the wisdom or unwisdom of 
going into the city. One of them who supposed we 
were going in asked another : 

" I say, Mac, what do you suppose we are going to do 
with the city of Washington when we take it f " 

" That question reminds me," replied Mac, " of old 
Simon's answer to Tony Towns when he asked Simon if 
he were not afraid he would lose his dog that was run- 
ning after every train that came by. The old darky 
replied that he was not thinking about losing his dog, 
but was just 'wonderin' what dat dorg was gwine do 
wid dem kyars when he kotched 'em.' " It is evident 
that neither of these soldiers believed in the wisdom of 
any serious effort to capture Washington at that time. 

While we debated, the Federal troops were arriving 
from Grant's army and entering the city on the oppo- 
site side. 

The two objects of our approach to the national 
capital were, first and mainly, to compel General Grant 
to detach a portion of his army from Lee's front at 
Petersburg; and, second and incidentally, to release, if 
possible, the Confederates held as prisoners of war at 
Point Lookout. We had succeeded in accomplishing 
only the first of these. We had, by the signal victory 
over Lew Wallace's protecting army at Monocacy and 
by the ring of our rifles in ear-shot of President Lin- 
coln's cabinet, created enough consternation to induce 


the Federal authorities to debate the contingencies of 
our entrance and to hurry Grant's troops across the 

The second object (the release of our prisoners con- 
fined at Point Lookout) had to be abandoned at a some- 
what earlier date because of the inability to perfect 
needful antecedent arrangements. Some days prior to 
our crossing the Potomac into Maryland, General Lee 
wrote twice to President Davis (June 26th and 29th) 
touching the possibility of effecting this release. It was 
General Lee's opinion that it would not require a large 
force to accomplish this object. He said to the Presi- 
dent : " I have understood that most of the garrison at 
Point Lookout is composed of negroes. ... A stub- 
born resistance, therefore, may not reasonably be ex- 
pected." He was ready to devote to the enterprise the 
courage and dash of all Marylanders in his army. The 
greatest difficulty, he thought, was to find a suitable 
leader, as success in such a venture depended largely on 
the brains and pluck of the man who guided it. He 
asked the President if such a leader could be found ; his 
own opinion was that General Bradley T. Johnson of 
Maryland was the best man in his acquaintance for this 
special work. Our march, however, toward Washington 
was so rapid, and our retreat from it so necessary to 
avoid being captured ourselves by the heavy forces just 
arriving from Grant's army, cooperating with those 
forming in our rear, that the recruiting of our ranks 
by releasing our expectant boys at Point Lookout 
had to be abandoned. There was not time enough for 
the delicate and difficult task of communicating secretly 
with our prisoners so as to have them ready for prompt 
cooperation in overpowering the negro guards, nor time 
for procuring the flotillas necessary silently to transport 
across the Potomac the forces who were to assault the 


General Bradley Johnson captured at this time Major 
General Franklin of the Union army, and the railroad 
train between Washington and Philadelphia on which 
this distinguished passenger was travelling. However, 
in the hurry of the Confederates to get away from that 
point, General Franklin made his escape. 

Thenceforward to the end of July, through the entire 
month of August, and during more than half of Sep- 
tember, 1864, Early's little army was marching and 
countermarching toward every point of the compass in 
the Shenandoah Valley, with scarcely a day of rest, 
skirmishing, fighting, rushing hither and thither to meet 
and drive back cavalry raids, while General Sheridan 
gathered his army of more than double our numbers for 
his general advance up the valley. 

General Jubal A. Early, who commanded the Confed- 
erate forces in the Valley of Virginia in the autumn of 
1864, was an able strategist and one of the coolest and 
most imperturbable of men under fire and in extremity. 
He had, however, certain characteristics which militated 
against his achieving the greatest successes. Like the 
brilliant George B. McClellan (whom I knew personally 
and greatly admired), and like many other noted sol- 
diers who might be named in all armies, he lacked what 
I shall term official courage, or what is known as the 
courage of one's convictions — that courage which I 
think both Lee and Grant possessed in an eminent 
degree, and which in Stonewall Jackson was one of the 
prime sources of his marvellous achievements. This 
peculiar courage must not be confounded with rashness, 
although there is a certain similarity between them. 
They both strike boldly, fiercely, and with all possible 
energy. They are, however, as widely separated as the 
poles in other and essential qualities. The rash officer's 
boldness is blind. He strikes in the dark, madly, 
wildly, and often impotently. The possessor of the 


courage which I am trying to describe is equally bold, 
but sees with quick, clear, keen vision the weak and 
strong points in the adversary, measures with unerring 
judgment his own strength and resources, and then, 
with utmost faith in the result, devotes his all to its 
attainment — and wins. Thus thought and thus fought 
Jackson and many of the world's greatest leaders. 
Thus Lee's faultless eye saw at Gettysburg, and thus he 
intended to strike the last decisive blow on the morning 
of the third day ; and if his orders had been obeyed — if, 
as he directed, every unemployed soldier of his army 
had been hurled at dawn against Meade's centre, and 
with the impetuosity which his assurance of victory 
should have imparted to General Longstreet— there is 
not a reasonable doubt that the whole Union centre 
would have been shattered, the two wings hopelessly 
separated, and the great army in blue, like a mill-dam 
broken by the rushing current, would have been swept 

General Early possessed other characteristics peculiarly 
his own, which were the parents of more or less trouble 
to him and to those under him: namely, his indisposi- 
tion to act upon suggestions submitted by subordinates 
and his distrust of the accuracy of reports by scouts, 
than whom there were no more intelligent, reliable, and 
trustworthy men in the army. Incidentally I alluded 
to this marked characteristic of General Early's mind in 
speaking of his refusal to permit me to assail General 
Grant's right flank on the 6th of May in the Wilderness 
until the day was nearly gone and until General Lee 
himself ordered the attack. 

General Early was a bachelor, with a pungent style of 
commenting on things he did not like ; but he had a 
kind heart and was always courteous to women. As 
might be expected, however, of a man who had passed 
the meridian of life without marrying, he had little or no 


patience with wives who insisted on following the army 
in order to be near their hnsbands. There were numbers 
of women — wives and mothers — who would gladly 
have accompanied their husbands and sons had it been 
possible for them to do so. Mrs. Gordon was one of the 
few who were able to consult their wishes in this regard. 
General Early, hearing of her constant presence, is said 
to have exclaimed, " I wish the Yankees would capture 
Mrs. Gordon and hold her till the war is over ! " Near 
Winchester, as the wagon-trains were being parked at 
night, he discovered a conveyance unlike any of the 
others that were going into camp. He immediately 
called out to his quartermaster in excited tones: 
" What 's that ! " " That is Mrs. Gordon's carriage, sir," 

replied the officer. " Well, I '11 be ! If my men 

would keep up as she does, I 'd never issue another order 
against straggling." 

Mrs. Gordon was fully aware of the general's senti- 
ments, and had heard of his wishing for her capture ; and 
during a camp dinner given in honor of General Ewell, 
she sat near General Early and good-naturedly rallied 
him about it. He was momentarily embarrassed, but 
rose to the occasion and replied : " Mrs. Gordon, General 
Gordon is a better soldier when you are close by him 
than when you are away, and so hereafter, when I issue 
orders that officers' wives must go to the rear, you may 
know that you are excepted." This gallant reply called 
forth a round of applause from the officers at table. 

Faithful and enterprising scouts, those keen-eyed, 
acute-eared, and nimble-footed heralds of an army who, 
"light-armed, scour each quarter to descry the distant 
foe," and who had been hovering around the Union army 
for some days after it crossed the Potomac, reported 
that General Sheridan was in command and was ap- 
proaching Winchester with a force greatly superior to 
that commanded by General Early. The four divisions 


of Early's little army were commanded at this time 
respectively by General John C. Breckinridge, the " Ken- 
tucky Game-cock^" by General Rodes of Alabama, who 
had few equals in either army, by General Ramseur of 
North Carolina, who was a most valiant and skillful 
leader of men, and by myself. These divisions were 
widely separated from one another. They had been post- 
ed by General Early in position for guarding the different 
approaches to Winchester, and for easy concentration 
when the exigencies of the campaign should require it. 
The reports of the Federal approach, however, did not 
seem to impress General Early, and he delayed the order 
for concentration until Sheridan was upon him, ready 
to devour him piecemeal, a division at a time. When at 
last the order came to me, on the Martinsburg pike, to 
move with utmost speed to Winchester, the far-off rever- 
berant artillery was already giving painful notice that 
Ramseur was fighting practically alone, while the in- 
creasingly violent concussions were passionate appeals 
to the other divisions for help. 

As the fighting was near Winchester, through which 
Mrs. Gordon was compelled to pass in going to the rear, 
she drove rapidly down the pike in that direction. Her 
light conveyance was drawn by two horses driven by a 
faithful negro boy, who was as anxious to escape capture 
as she. As she overtook the troops of General Rodes's 
division, marching to the aid of Ramseur, and drove 
into their midst, a cloud of dust loomed up in the rear, 
and a wild clatter of hoofs announced, "Cavalry in 
pursuit ! " General Rodes halted a body of his men, 
and threw them in line across the pike, just behind 
Mrs. Gordon's carriage, as she hurried on, urged by the 
solicitude of the " boys in gray " around her. In crossing 
a wide stream, which they were compelled to ford, the 
tongue of the carriage broke loose from the axle. The 
horses went on, but Mrs. Gordon, the driver, and carriage 


were left in the middle of the stream. She barely- 
escaped; for the detachment of Union cavalry were 
still in pursuit as a number of Confederate soldiers 
rushed into the stream, dragged the carriage out, and 
by some temporary makeshift attached the tongue and 
started her again on her flight. 

Ramseur's division was nearly overwhelmed and Rodes 
was heavily pressed as the head of my column reached 
the crest from which we could dimly discern the steady 
advance of the blue lines through the murky clouds of 
mingled smoke and dust that rose above the contending 

Breckinridge's troops were also furiously fighting on 
another part of the field, and they, too, were soon doubled 
up by charges in front and on the flank. 

This left practically only Rodes's division and mine, 
with parts of Ramseur's bleeding brigades, not more than 
6000 men in all, to contend with Sheridan's whole army 
of about 30,000 men, reaching in both directions far be- 
yond our exposed right and left. In the absence of 
specific orders from the commander-in-chief, I rode up 
to Rodes for hasty conference. A moment's interchange 
of views brought both of us to the conclusion that the 
only chance to save our commands was to make an im- 
petuous and simultaneous charge with both divisions, in 
the hope of creating confusion in Sheridan's lines, so 
that we might withdraw in good order. As the last 
words between us were spoken, Rodes fell, mortally 
wounded, near my horse's feet, and was borne bleeding 
and almost lifeless to the rear. 

There are times in battle— and they come often— when 
the strain and the quick shifting of events compel the 
commander to stifle sensibilities and silence the natural 
promptings of his heart as cherished friends fall around 
him. This was one of those occasions. General Rodes 
was not only a comrade whom I greatly admired, but a 


friend whom I loved. To ride away without even ex- 
pressing to him my deep grief was sorely trying to my 
feelings ; but I had to go. His fall had left both divi- 
sions to my immediate control for the moment, and under 
the most perplexing and desperate conditions. 

The proposed assault on Sheridan's front was made 
with an impetuosity that caused his advancing lines to 
halt, bend, and finally to break at different points ; but 
his steadfast battalions, which my divisions could not 
reach and which overlapped me in both directions, 
quickly doubled around the unprotected right and left, 
throwing the Confederate ranks into inextricable con- 
fusion and making orderly retreat impossible. Mean- 
time, that superb fighter, General Wharton of Virginia, 
had repelled from my rear and left flank a number of 
charges by Sheridan's cavalry; but finally the over- 
powered Confederate cavalry was broken and Wharton's 
infantry forced back, leaving the vast plain to our left 
open for the almost unobstructed sweep of the Federal 

General Breckinridge, who had scarcely a corporal's 
guard of his magnificent division around him, rode to 
my side. His Apollo-like face was begrimed with sweat 
and smoke. He was desperately reckless— the imperson- 
ation of despair. He literally seemed to court death. 
Indeed, to my protest against his unnecessary exposure 
by riding at my side, he said : " Well, general, there is 
little left for me if our cause is to fail." Later, when the 
cause had failed, he acted upon this belief and left the 
country, and only returned after long absence, to end 
his brilliant career in coveted privacy among his Ken- 
tucky friends. 

To my horror, as I rode among my disorganized troops, 
through Winchester I found Mrs. Gordon on the street, 
where shells from Sheridan's batteries were falling and 
Minie balls flying around her. She was apparently un- 


conscious of the danger. I had supposed that, in accord- 
ance with instructions, she had gone to the rear at the 
opening of the battle, and was many miles away. But 
she was stopping at the house of her friend Mrs. Hugh 
Lee, and as the first Confederates began to pass to the 
rear, she stood upon the veranda, appealing to them to 
return to the front. Many yielded to her entreaties and 
turned back— one waggish fellow shouting aloud to his 
comrades : " Come, boys, let 's go back. We might not 
obey the general, but we can't resist Mrs. Gordon." The 
fact is, it was the first time in all her army experience that 
she had ever seen the Confederate lines broken. As the 
different squads passed, she inquired to what command 
they belonged. When, finally, to her question the answer 
came, " We are Gordon's men," she lost her self-control, 
and rushed into the street, urging them to go back and 
meet the enemy. She was thus engaged when I found 
her. I insisted that she go immediately into the house, 
where she would be at least partially protected. She 
obej^ed ; but she did not for a moment accept my state- 
ment that there was nothing left for her except capture 
by Sheridan's army. I learned afterward that her negro 
driver had been frightened by the shells bursting about 
the stable, and had not brought out her carriage and 
horses. She acquainted some of my men with these facts. 
With the assurance, " We '11 get it for you, Mrs. Gordon," 
they broke down the fences and brought the carriage 
to her a few moments after I had passed on. She sprang 
into it, and, taking her six-year-old son Frank and one 
or two wounded officers with her, she was driven rapidly 
away amidst the flying missiles from Sheridan's advan- 
cing troops and with the prayers of my brave men for 
her safety. 

The pursuit was pressed far into the twilight, and only 
ended when night came and dropped her protecting 
curtains around us. 


Drearily and silently, with burdened brains and ach- 
ing hearts, leaving our dead and many of the wounded 
behind us, we rode hour after hour, with our sore-footed, 
suffering men doing their best to keep up, anxiously 
inquiring for their commands and eagerly listening for 
orders to halt and sleep. 

Lucky was the Confederate private who on that 
mournful retreat knew his own captain, and most lucky 
was the commander who knew where to find the main 
body of his own troops. The only lamps to guide us 
were the benignant stars, dimly lighting the gray sur- 
face of the broad limestone turnpike. It was, however, 
a merciful darkness. It came too slowly for our com- 
fort; but it came at last, and screened our weary and 
confused infantry from further annoyance by Sheridan's 
horsemen. Little was said by any officer. Each was 
left to his own thoughts and the contemplation of the 
shadows that were thickening around us. What was 
the morrow to bring, or the next month, or the next 
year? There was no limit to lofty courage, to loyal 
devotion, and the spirit of self-sacrifice ; but where were 
the men to come from to take the places of the maimed 
and the dead 1 Where were the arsenals from which to 
replace the diminishing materials of war so essential to 
our future defence f It was evident that these thoughts 
were running through the brains of rank and file ; for 
now and then there came a cheering flash of rustic wit 
or grim humor from the privates : " Cheer up, boys ; 
don't be worried. We '11 lick them Yankees the first fair 
chance, and get more grub and guns and things than 
our poor old quartermaster mules can pull." Distinct 
in my memory now (they will be there till I die) are 
those startling manifestations of a spirit which nothing 
could break, that strange commingling of deep-drawn 
sighs and merry songs, the marvellous blending of an 
hour of despair with an hour of bounding hope, inspired 


by the most resolute manhood ever exhibited in any age 
or country. 

At a late hour of the night on that doleful retreat, the 
depressing silence was again broken by a characteristic 
shot at General Breckinridge from Early's battery of 
good-natured sarcasm, which was always surcharged 
and ready to go off at the slightest touch. These two 
soldiers became very good friends after the war began, 
but previously they had held antagonistic political views. 
Early was an uncompromising Unionist until Virginia 
passed the ordinance of secession. Breckinridge, on 
the other hand, had long been a distinguished champion 
of what was called " the rights of the South in the Ter- 
ritories," and in 1860 he was nominated for President 
by the " Southern Eights " wing of the Democratic 
party. The prospect of establishing Southern rights by 
arms was not encouraging on that dismal retreat from 
Winchester. General Early could not resist the tempta- 
tion presented by the conditions around us ; and, at a 
time when the oppressive stillness was disturbed only 
by the dull sound of tramping feet and tinkling can- 
teens, his shrill tones rang out : 

" General Breckinridge, what do you think of the 
'rights of the South in the Territories' now?" 

Breckinridge made no reply. He was in no humor 
for badinage, or for reminiscences of the period of his 
political power when he was Kentucky's most eloquent 
representative in the halls of Congress, or pleaded for 
Southern rights on the floor of the Senate, or made 
parliamentary rulings as Vice-President of the United 
States, or carried the flag of a great party as its selected 
candidate for the still higher office of President. 

When the night was far spent and a sufficient distance 
between the Confederate rear and Union front had been 
reached, there came the order to halt — more grateful 
than sweetest music to the weary soldiers' ears ; and down 


they dropped upon their beds of grass or earth, their heads 
pillowed on dust-covered knapsacks, their rifles at their 
sides, and their often shoeless feet bruised and aching. 

But they slept. Priceless boon — sleep and rest for 
tired frame and heart and brain ! 

General Sheridan graciously granted us two days and 
a part of the third to sleep and rest and pull ourselves 
together for the struggle of September 22. The battle, 
or, to speak more accurately, the bout at Fisher's Hill, 
was so quickly ended that it may be described in a few 
words. Indeed, to all experienced soldiers the whole 
story is told in one word — " flanked." 

We had again halted and spread our banners on the 
ramparts which nature built along the Shenandoah's 
banks. Our stay was short, however, and our leaving 
was hurried, without ceremony or concert. It is the 
old story of failure to protect flanks. Although the 
Union forces more than doubled Early's army, our posi- 
tion was such that in our stronghold we could have 
whipped General Sheridan had the weak point on our 
left been sufficiently protected. Sheridan demonstrated 
in front while he slipped his infantry around our left and 
completely enveloped that flank. An effort was made 
to move Battle and Wharton to the enveloped flank in 
order to protect it, but the effort was made too late. 
The Federals saw their advantage, and seized and 
pressed it. The Confederates saw the hopelessness of 
their situation, and realized that they had only the option 
of retreat or capture. They were not long in deciding. 
The retreat (it is always so) was at first stubborn and 
slow, then rapid, then — a rout. 

It is not just to blame the troops. There are condi- 
tions in war when courage, firmness, steadiness of 
nerve, and self-reliance are of small avail. Such were 
the conditions at Fisher's Hill. 



Sheridan's dallying for twenty-six days— Arrival of General Kershaw— 
Position of Early's army with reference to Sheridan's— The outlook 
from Massanutten Mountain— Weakness of Sheridan's left revealed— 
The plan of battle— A midnight march— Complete surprise and rout 
of Sheridan's army— Early's decision not to follow up the victory- 
Why Sheridan's ride succeeded— Victory changed into defeat. 

NEARLY a month — twenty-six days, to be exact — of 
comparative rest and recuperation ensued after 
Fisher's Hill. General Sheridan followed our retreat 
very languidly. The record of one day did not differ 
widely from the record of every other day of the twenty- 
six. His cavalry manoeuvred before ours, and ours 
manoeuvred before his. His artillery saluted, and ours 
answered. His infantry made demonstrations, and ours 
responded by forming lines. This was all very fine for 
Early's battered little army ; and it seemed that Sheri- 
dan's victories of the 19th and 22d had been so costly, 
notwithstanding his great preponderance in numbers, 
that he sympathized with our desire for a few weeks of 
dallying. He appeared to be anxious to do just enough 
to keep us reminded that he was still there. So he de- 
cided upon a season of burning, instead of battling ; of 
assaults with matches and torches upon barns and hay- 
stacks, instead of upon armed men who were lined up in 
front of him. 

The province of uncomplimentary criticism is a most 



distasteful one to me. It would be far more agreeable 
to applaud and eulogize every officer in both armies of 
whom it is necessary for me to speak. But if I write at 
all, I must write as I think. I must be honest with my- 
self, and honest with those who may do me the honor to 
read what I write. In a former chapter I have already 
spoken of General Sheridan as probably the most brill- 
iant cavalry officer who fought on the Union side. I 
shall not be misunderstood, therefore, when I say that 
his twenty-six days of apparent indecision, of feeble 
pursuit, of discursive and disjointed fighting after his 
two crushing victories, are to me a military mystery. 
Why did he halt or hesitate, why turn to the torch in 
the hope of starving his enemy, instead of beating him 
in resolute battle? Would Grant have thus hesitated 
for a month or a day under such conditions — with a 
broken army in his front, and his own greatly superior 
in numbers and inspired by victory ? How long would 
it require any intelligent soldier who fought under Grant, 
or against him, to answer that question ? 

General Meade was criticised for the delay of a single 
day at Gettysburg — for not assailing the Confederate 
army the next morning after the last Southern assault — 
after the brilliant charge and bloody repulse of Pickett's 
command. From the standpoint of a Confederate who 
participated in the conflicts both at Gettysburg and in 
the Valley, I feel impelled to say, and with absolute im- 
partiality, that the Union archers who from sheltered 
positions in Washington hurled their sharpened arrows 
at Union generals in the field for not gathering the 
fruits of victory must have emptied their quivers into 
Meade, or have broken their bows prior to that month 
of Sheridan's campaigning after the 19th and 22d of 

From my point of view, it is easy to see why Meade 
halted after the Confederate repulse of the last day at 


Gettysburg. In his front was Robert E. Lee, still reso- 
lute and defiant. The Confederate commander had not 
been driven one foot from his original position. He was 
supported by an army still complete in organization, 
with faith in its great leader and its own prowess undi- 
minished, eagerly waiting for the Union troops to leave 
the trenches, and ready at Lee's command to retrieve in 
open field and at any sacrifice the loss of the victory 
which it had been impossible to wrench from Meade's 
splendid army intrenched on the heights and flanked 
by the Round Tops. It is not so easy, however, to 
furnish an explanation for Sheridan's indecision after 
Winchester and Fisher's Hill. There was no Robert E. 
Lee in his front, inspiring unfaltering faith. The men 
before whom Sheridan hesitated were not complete in 
organization, as were the men at Gettysburg, who still 
held their original lines and were still confident of vic- 
tory in open field. On the contrary, the army before 
him, although not demoralized, was vastly inferior to 
his own in numbers and equipment — of which fact every 
officer and private was cognizant. It had been shattered 
and driven in precipitate flight from every portion of 
both fields. Why did General Sheridan hesitate to hurl 
his inspirited and overwhelming army upon us ! Why 
retreat and intrench and wait to be assaulted ? Was it 
because of commanding necessity, or from what George 
Washington would have termed "untimely discretion"? 
Taking advantage of Sheridan's tardiness, Early with- 
drew from the main pike to Brown's Gap in order to 
refresh his little army. Brown's Gap was the same grand 
amphitheatre in the Blue Ridge Mountains in which 
General Jackson had rested two years before, during 
that wonderful campaign so graphically described by 
Colonel Henderson, of the British army, in his "Life of 
Stonewall Jackson." In that campaign, Jackson had 
baffled and beaten four Union armies, under Milroy, 


Banks, Fremont, and Shields, each larger than his own ; 
and having thus cleared the Valley of Federal troops, 
had promptly joined in the seven days' battles around 
Richmond, which drove McClellan to the protection of 
his gunboats, and prevented a long siege of the Con- 
federate capital. 

This reference to Early's encampment on the moun- 
tain-rimmed plateau, to which Jackson withdrew at in- 
tervals in his marvellous campaign, reminds me that 
unfair contrasts have been drawn between the results 
achieved by these two generals in the same Valley. It 
is only just to General Early to call attention to the fact 
that General Jackson was never, in any one of his great 
battles, there, so greatly outnumbered .as was General 
Early at Winchester and Fisher's Hill. Early had in 
neither of these battles more than 10,000 men, including 
all arms of the service, while the Official Reports show 
that General Sheridan brought against him over 30,000 
well-equipped troops. The marvel is that Early was not 
utterly routed and his army captured by the Union cav- 
alry in the early morning at Winchester; for, at the 
opening of the battle, Early's divisions were separated by 
a greater distance than intervened between Sheridan and 
the Confederate command which he first struck. The 
magnificently mounted and equipped Union cavalry 
alone very nearly equalled in number Early's entire 
army. With an open country and fordable streams be- 
fore him, with an immense preponderance in numbers, 
it seems incomprehensible that General Sheridan should 
have failed to destroy utterly General Early's army by 
promptly and vigorously following up the advantages 
resulting at Winchester and Fisher's Hill. 

While we were resting on Jackson's "old camp- 
ground," which kind nature seemed to have supplied as 
an inspiring and secure retreat for the defenders of the 
Valley, General Kershaw, who was one of the ablest 


division commanders in Lee's army, came with his dash- 
ing South Carolinians to reenforce and cheer Early's 
brave and weary men. The most seasoned American 
troops, and especially volunteer forces, composed largely 
of immature boys, are under such conditions as subject 
to capricious humors as are volatile Frenchmen. This 
was true at least of the warm-hearted, impetuous South- 
ern boys who filled our ranks. But no change of condi- 
tions or sudden caprice ever involved the slightest 
diminution of devotion to the Southern cause. "Whether 
victorious or defeated, they were always resolved to 
fight it out to the last extremity. The arrival of Ker- 
shaw's division awakened the latent enthusiasm with 
which they had pommelled Sheridan at the beginning 
of the battle of Winchester, but which had been made 
dormant by the subsequent disastrous defeats on that 
field and at Fisher's Hill. The news of Kershaw's ap- 
proach ran along the sleeping ranks, and aroused them 
as if an electric battery had been sending its stimulating 
current through their weary bodies. Cheer after cheer 
came from their husky throats and rolled along the 
mountain cliffs, the harbinger of a coming victory. 
" Hurrah for the Palmetto boys ! " " Glad to see you, 
South Ca'liny ! " " Whar did you come from ? " " Did 
you bring any more guns for Phil Sheridan?" "We 
had delivered a number of guns to that officer without 
taking any receipts for them; but the Confederate au- 
thorities at Richmond were still straining every nerve to 
supply us with more. Among the pieces of artillery 
sent us by the "War Department was a long black rifle- 
cannon, on which some wag had printed in white letters 
words to this effect : " Respectfully consigned to General 
Sheridan through General Early"; and Sheridan got it. 
Some days later at Cedar Creek, or on some other field, 
Sheridan's men captured the gun which had been con- 
signed to him " through General Early." 


On the morning of the surrender at Appomattox, just 
prior to the meeting of Lee and Grant, General Sheri- 
dan referred, in our conversation, to this incident. 

The arrival of reinforcements under Kershaw not only 
revived the hopes of our high-mettled men, but enabled 
General Early and his division commanders to await 
with confidence General Sheridan's advance, which was 
daily expected. He did not come, however. Our rations 
were nearly exhausted, and after holding a council of 
war, General Early decided to advance upon the Union 
forces strongly intrenched on the left bank of Cedar 

No battle of the entire war, with the single exception 
of Gettysburg, has provoked such varied and conflicting 
comments and such prolonged controversy as this re- 
markable engagement between Sheridan and Early at 
Cedar Creek. No battle has been so greatly misunder- 
stood in important particulars, nor have the accounts of 
any battle been so productive of injustice to certain actors 
in it, nor so strangely effective in converting misappre- 
hensions into so-called history. Some of these misappre- 
hensions I shall endeavor to correct in this and succeed- 
ing chapters ; and, so far as I am able, I shall do justice 
to the men to whom it has been denied for so many 
years. I do not underestimate the nature of the task I 
now undertake ; but every statement made by me bear- 
ing on controverted points will be supported by the 
Official Records which the Government has published in 
recent years, and by other incontrovertible proofs. It 
is enough to say, in explanation of this long-deferred 
effort on my part, that I had no access to official reports 
until they were made public ; and until very recently I 
did not doubt that my own official report of Cedar 
Creek would be published with others, and stand beside 
the others, and that the facts stated in my report would 
vindicate the brave men who fought that marvellous 


battle. It seems, however, that my report never reached 
General Lee, or was lost when his official papers were 
captured at the fall of the Confederate capital. 

On the right of the Confederate line, as drawn up at 
Fisher's Hill, was Massanutten Mountain, rising to a 
great height, and so rugged and steep as to make our 
position practically unassailable on that flank. It was 
also the generally accepted belief that this mountain 
was an absolute barrier against any movement by our 
army in that direction. The plan of battle, therefore, 
which had been adopted was to move upon Sheridan in 
the other direction or by our left. I was not entirely 
satisfied with the general plan of attack, and decided to 
go to the top of the mountain, where a Confederate 
Signal Corps had been placed, and from that lofty peak 
to survey and study Sheridan's position and the topog- 
raphy of the intervening country. I undertook the 
ascent of the rugged steep, accompanied by that superb 
officer, General Clement A. Evans of Georgia, in whose 
conservatism and sound judgment I had the most im- 
plicit confidence, and by Captain Hotchkiss 1 of General 
Early's staff, and my chief of staff, Major Robert W. 
Hunter. Through tangled underbrush and over giant 
boulders and jutting cliffs we finally reached the summit, 
from which the entire landscape was plainly visible. It 
was an inspiring panorama. With strong field-glasses, 
every road and habitation and hill and stream could be 
seen and noted. The abruptly curved and precipitous 
highlands bordering Cedar Creek, on which the army of 
Sheridan was strongly posted ; the historic Shenandoah, 
into which Cedar Creek emptied at the foot of the tow- 
ering peak on which we stood, and, most important and 
intensely interesting of all, the entire Union army — all 

1 See Journal of Captain Jed Hotchkiss of General Early's staff, penned at 
the time, and published in War Eecords, First Series, Vol. XLIII, Part I, 
p. 580, Monday, October 17. 


seemed but a stone's throw away from us as we stood 
contemplating the scene through the magnifying lenses 
of our field-glasses. Not only the general outlines of 
Sheridan's breastworks, but every parapet where his 
heavy guns were mounted, and every piece of artillery, 
every wagon and tent and supporting line of troops, 
were in easy range of our vision. I could count, and 
did count, the number of his guns. I could see dis- 
tinctly the three colors of trimmings on the jackets re- 
spectively of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and locate 
each, while the number of flags gave a basis for estimat- 
ing approximately the forces with which we were to 
contend in the proposed attack. If, however, the plan 
of battle which at once suggested itself to my mind 
should be adopted, it mattered little how large a force 
General Sheridan had; for the movement which I in- 
tended to propose contemplated the turning of Sheri- 
dan's flank where he least expected it, a sudden irruption 
upon his left and rear, and the complete surprise of his 
entire army. 

It was unmistakably evident that General Sheridan 
concurred in the universally accepted opinion that it 
was impracticable for the Confederates to pass or march 
along the rugged and almost perpendicular face of Mas- 
sanutten Mountain and assail his left. This fact was 
made manifest at the first sweep of the eye from that 
mountain-top. For he had left that end of his line with 
no protection save the natural barriers, and a very small 
detachment of cavalry on the left bank of the river, 
with vedettes on their horses in the middle of the stream. 
His entire force of superb cavalry was massed on his 
right, where he supposed, as all others had supposed, 
that General Early must come, if he came with any hope 
of success. The disposition of his divisions and avail- 
able resources were all for defence of his right flank 
and front, or for aggressive movement from one or both 


of these points. As to his left flank — well, that needed 
no defence ; the impassable Massanutten, with the Shen- 
andoah River at its base, was the sufficient protecting 
fortress. Thus reasoned the commanders of each of the 
opposing armies. Both were of the same mind, and Early 
prepared to assail, and Sheridan to defend, his right and 
centre only. Captain Hotchkiss, who was an engineer, 
made a rough map of the positions in our view. 

It required, therefore, no transcendent military genius 
to decide quickly and unequivocally upon the movement 
which the conditions invited. I was so deeply impressed 
by the situation revealed to us, so sure that it afforded an 
opportunity for an overwhelming Confederate victory, 
that I expressed to those around me the conviction that 
if General Early would adopt the plan of battle which I 
would submit, and would press it to its legitimate results, 
the destruction of Sheridan's army was inevitable. In- 
deed, there are those still living who remember my state- 
ment that if General Early would acquiesce, and the plan 
failed, I would assume the responsibility of failure. 1 
Briefly, the plan was to abandon serious attack of Sheri- 
dan's forces where all things were in readiness, making 
only a demonstration upon that right flank by Rosser's 
cavalry dismounted, and upon the centre by a movement 
of infantry and artillery along the pike, while the heavy 
and decisive blow should be given upon the Union left, 
where no preparation was made to resist us. This move- 
ment on the left I myself proposed to make with the Sec- 
ond Army Corps, led by General Clement A. Evans's 
division, followed by Ramseur's and Pegram's. 

"But how are you going to pass the precipice of 
Massanutten Mountain ! " 

That was the one obstacle in the way of the successful 

1 See statements of General Evans, General Rosser, General Wharton, 
Major R. W. Hunter, and of Thomas G. Jones, ex-governor of Alabama 
and now United States judge. 


execution of the plan I intended to submit, and I felt sure 
that this could be overcome. A dim and narrow path- 
way was found, along which but one man could pass at 
a time ; but by beginning the movement at nightfall the 
entire corps could be passed before daylight. 

This plan was finally adopted by General Early, and 
the movement was begun with the coming of the dark- 
ness. The men were stripped of canteens and of every- 
thing calculated to make noise and arouse Sheridan's 
pickets below us, and our watches were set so that at 
the same moment the right, the centre, and the left of 
Sheridan should be assaulted. With every man, from 
the commanders of divisions to the brave privates under 
them, impressed with the gravity of our enterprise, 
speaking only when necessary and then in whispers, and 
striving to suppress every sound, the long gray line 
like a great serpent glided noislessly along the dim path- 
way above the precipice. Before the hour agreed upon 
for the simultaneous attack, my entire command had 
slowly and safely passed the narrow and difficult defile. 

Some watchful and keen-eyed Confederate thought he 
discovered ahead of us two of the enemy's pickets. If 
they should fire their rifles it would give to Sheridan's 
vedettes the alarm and possibly seriously interfere with 
our success. I sent Jones of my staff, with a well- trained 
scout and one or two others, noiselessly to capture them. 
Concealing their movements behind a fence until near 
the point where the pickets stood, my men crawled on 
hands and knees, and were in the act of demanding sur- 
render when they discovered that the two hostile figures 
were cedar-bushes in the corner of the rail fence. 

Late in the afternoon I had directed that one of my 
couriers be stationed at every fork of the dim pathway 
after it left the mountain, to avoid the possibility of 
missing the way which I had selected to the ford of the 
river. At one fork, however, a small tree across the right- 


hand road was sufficient to guide us into the road on the 
left, which was the proper one. Late that afternoon, a 
farmer passed with his wagon and threw this sapling 
across the other road. But small things impress them- 
selves very vividly at such momentous times, and when 
we reached that point in our night march I thought at 
once that the tree had been moved. To leave no doubt on 
so vital a point, a member of my staff inquired at a near-by 
cabin, and we had our impressions confirmed by the old 
man who had come so near being the innocent cause of 
our taking the road away from the ford. On such small 
things sometimes hangs the fate of great battles. 

For nearly an hour we waited for the appointed time, 
resting near the bank of the river in the middle of which 
the Union vedettes sat upon their horses, wholly uncon- 
scious of the presence of the gray-jacketed foe, who 
from the ambush of night, like crouching lions from the 
jungle, were ready to spring upon them. The whole 
situation was unspeakably impressive. Everything con- 
spired to make the conditions both thrilling and weird. 
The men were resting, lying in long lines on the thickly 
matted grass or reclining in groups, their hearts thump- 
ing, their ears eagerly listening for the orders : " Atten- 
tion, men ! " " Fall in ! " " Forward ! " At brief intervals 
members of the staff withdrew to a point where they 
could safely strike a match and examine watches in 
order to keep me advised of the time. In the still star- 
lit night, the only sounds heard were the gentle rustle 
of leaves by the October wind, the low murmur of the 
Shenandoah flowing swiftly along its rocky bed and 
dashing against the limestone cliffs that bordered it, the 
churning of the water by the feet of horses on which sat 
Sheridan's faithful pickets, and the subdued tones or 
half-whispers of my men as they thoughtfully com- 
muned with each other as to the fate which might befall 
each in the next hour. 


It was during this weird time of waiting that my com- 
rade and friend, General Ramseur, had that wonderful 
presentiment of his coming fate. Before the battle 
ended, his premonition had been proved a literal prophecy, 
and his voice was silenced forever. 

His mantle fell upon one worthy to wear it. General 
Bryan Grimes of North Carolina had already distin- 
guished himself among the illustrious sons of a State 
prolific in a soldiery unsurpassed in any war, and his 
record as chief of this stalwart command added to his 
high reputation. 

The minute-hand of the watch admonished us that it 
was time to move in order to reach Sheridan's flank at 
the hour agreed upon. General Payne of Virginia, one 
of the ablest and most knightly soldiers in the Confed- 
erate army, plunged with his intrepid cavalry into the 
river, and firing as they went upon Sheridan's mounted 
pickets and supporting squadrons, the Virginians dashed 
in pursuit as if in steeplechase with the Union riders, 
the coveted goal for both being the rear of Sheridan's 
army. The Federals sought it for safety. Payne was 
seeking it to spread confusion and panic in the Federal 
ranks and camps ; and magnificently did he accomplish 
his purpose. 

In my survey of the field from the mountain-top I had 
located Sheridan's headquarters; and this daring Vir- 
ginian enthusiastically agreed to ride into the Union 
camps on the heels of the flying body of Federal cavalry, 
and, by sudden dash at headquarters, attempt to capture 
the commander-in-chief and bring him back as a cavalry 

As soon as Payne had cleared the ford for the infantry, 
Evans, with his Virginians, North Carolinians, and Geor- 
gians, the old Stonewall Brigade leading, rushed into 
the cold current of the Shenandoah, chilled as it was by 


the October nights and frosts. The brave fellows did 
not hesitate for a moment. Reaching the eastern bank 
drenched and cold, they were ready for the "double 
quick," which warmed them up and brought them 
speedily to the left flank of Sheridan's sleeping army. 
From that eyry on the mountain- top I had selected a 
country road which led to the flank, and had located a 
white farm-house which stood on this road at a point 
precisely opposite the end of Sheridan's intrenchments. 
I knew, therefore, that when the head of my column 
reached that house we would be on the Union flank and 
slightly in the rear. No time, therefore, was lost in 
scouting or in locating lines. There was no need for 
either. There was not a moment's delay. Nothing was 
needed except to close up, front face, and forward. This 
was accomplished by Evans with remarkable celerity. 
His splendid division, with Ramseur's farther to the 
right and Pegram's in support, rushed upon the unpre- 
pared and unsuspecting Federals, great numbers of whom 
were still asleep in their tents. Even those who had 
been aroused by Payne's sudden irruption in the rear, 
and had sprung to the defence of the breastworks, were 
thrown into the wildest confusion and terror by Ker- 
shaw's simultaneous assault in front. That admirable 
officer had more than filled his part in this game of battle. 
He had not only demonstrated against the centre while 
Evans was assailing flank and rear, but his high-spirited 
South Carolinians, like a resistless sea driven by the 
tempest, poured a steady stream of gray-jackets over 
the works and into the Union camp. The intrepid 
Wharton was soon across with his superb division, 
adding momentum to the jubilant Confederate host. 

The surprise was complete. The victory was won in 
a space of time inconceivably short, and with a loss to 
the Confederates incredibly small. Sheridan's brave 
men had lain down in their tents on the preceding night 


feeling absolutely protected by his intrenchments and 
his faithful riflemen who stood on guard. They were 
startled in their dreams and aroused from their slumbers 
by the rolls of musketry in nearly every direction around 
them, and terrified by the whizzing of Minie balls through 
their tents and the yelling of exultant foemen in their 
very midst. They sprang from their beds to find Con- 
federate bayonets at their breasts. Large numbers were 
captured. Many hundreds were shot down as they 
attempted to escape. Two entire corps, the Eighth and 
Nineteenth, constituting more than two thirds of Sher- 
idan's army, broke and fled, leaving the ground covered 
with arms, accoutrements, knapsacks, and the dead bodies 
of their comrades. Across the open fields they swarmed 
in utter disorganization, heedless of their officers' com- 
mands—heedless of all things save getting to the rear. 
There was nothing else for them to do ; for Sheridan's 
magnificent cavalry was in full retreat before Rosser's 
bold troopers, who were in position to sweep down upon 
the other Union flank and rear. 

At little after sunrise we had captured nearly all of 
the Union artillery; we had scattered in veriest rout 
two thirds of the Union army ; while less than one third 
of the Confederate forces had been under fire, and that 
third intact and jubilant. Only the Sixth Corps of Sher- 
idan's entire force held its ground. It was on the right 
rear and had been held in reserve. It stood like a granite 
breakwater, built to beat back the oncoming flood; but 
it was also doomed unless some marvellous intervention 
should check the Confederate concentration which was 
forming against it. That intervention did occur, as will 
be seen; and it was a truly marvellous intervention, 
because it came from the Confederate commander him- 
self. Sheridan's Sixth Corps was so situated after the 
other corps were dispersed that nothing could have saved 
it if the arrangement for its destruction had been car- 


ried out. It was at that hour largely outnumbered, and 
I had directed every Confederate command then subject 
to my orders to assail it in front and upon both flanks 
simultaneously. At the same time I had directed the 
brilliant chief of artillery, Colonel Thomas H. Carter of 
Virginia, who had no superior in ability and fighting 
qualities in that arm of the service in either army, to 
gallop along the broad highway with all his batteries 
and with every piece of captured artillery available, 
and to pour an incessant stream of shot and shell upon 
this solitary remaining corps, explaining to him at the 
same time the movements I had ordered the infantry to 
make. As Colonel Carter surveyed the position of 
Sheridan's Sixth Corps (it could not have been better 
placed for our purposes), he exclaimed : " General, you 
will need no infantry. With enfilade fire from my bat- 
teries I will destroy that corps in twenty minutes." 

At this moment General Early came upon the field, 
and said : 

"Well, Gordon, this is glory enough for one day. 
This is the 19th. Precisely one month ago to-day we 
were going in the opposite direction." 

His allusion was to our flight from Winchester on the 
19th of September. I replied : " It is very well so far, 
general ; but we have one more blow to strike, and then 
there will not be left an organized company of infantry 
in Sheridan's army." 

I pointed to the Sixth Corps and explained the move- 
ments I had ordered, which I felt sure would compass 
the capture of that corps — certainly its destruction. 
When I had finished, he said : " No use in that ; they will 
all go directly." 

"That is the Sixth Corps, general. It will not go 
unless we drive it from the field." 

" Yes, it will go too, directly." 

My heart went into my boots. Visions of the fatal 


lialt on the first day at Gettysburg, and of the whole 
day's hesitation to permit an assault on Grant's exposed 
flank on the 6th of May in the Wilderness, rose before 
me. And so it came to pass that the fatal halting, the 
hesitation, the spasmodic firing, and the isolated move- 
ments in the face of the sullen, slow, and orderly retreat 
of this superb Federal corps, lost us the great opportun- 
ity, and converted the brilliant victory of the morning 
into disastrous defeat in the evening. 

Congress thanked General Sheridan and his men for 
liaving "averted a great disaster." By order of the 
President, he was made a major-general, because, as 
stated in the order, " under the blessing of Providence 
his routed army was reorganized and a great national 
disaster averted," etc. Medical Director Ghiselin, in his 
official report, says: "At dawn on the 19th of October 
the enemy attacked and turned the left flank of the 
army. Their attack was so sudden and unexpected that 
our troops were thrown into confusion, and it was not 
until we had fallen back four miles that another line of 
battle was established and confidence restored." In the 
itinerary of the Second Brigade (p, 74), dated October 19, 
are these words : " For a time the foe was held in check, 
but soon they had completely routed the Eighth and 
Nineteenth corps, and the Sixth Corps fell back." Gen- 
eral Sheridan says in his report that he met these flying 
troops at nine o'clock in the morning within half a mile of 
Winchester. " Until the middle of the day the game 
was completely in the enemy's hands," is the Federal rec- 
ord of another itinerary (p. 82, Vol. XLIII). Impartial 
history must declare that, under these conditions, if one 
more heavy blow had been delivered with unhesitating 
energy, with Jacksonian confidence and vigor, and with 
the combined power of every heavy gun and every 
exultant soldier of Early's army, the battle would have 
ended in one of the most complete and inexpensive vie- 


tories ever won in war. The now established facts 
warrant this assertion. Although Sheridan's army at 
the beginning of the battle outnumbered Early's, ac- 
cording to official reports, nearly or quite three to one, 1 
yet the complete surprise of our sudden attack at dawn 
upon flank and rear had placed the brave men in blue 
at such disadvantage that more than two thirds of them 
were compelled to fly or be captured. Thus before eight 
o'clock in the morning the Confederate infantry out- 
numbered the organized Federal forces in our front. 
At this hour the one army was aroused and electrified 
by. victory, while all that remained of the other was 
necessarily dismayed by the most adverse conditions, 
especially by the panic that had seized and shaken to 
pieces the Eighth and Nineteenth corps. 

The brave and steady Sixth Corps could not possibly 
have escaped had the proposed concentration upon it 

1 General Early's army was scarcely 12,000 strong. On October 25 
General Sheridan telegraphed General Grant from Cedar Creek : " We are 
now reduced to effective force of not over 22,000 infantry." Add to this his 
heavy force of cavalry, his artillery, his killed and wounded at Cedar 
Creek, and the 1300 prisoners, and it becomes evident that his army at the 
beginning of the battle of the 19th was not less than 35,000. 

The official returns regarding the Valley campaign are very meagre, and 
the computation of the strength of the respective armies made by writers 
on the war are indefinite and unsatisfactory. 

Sheridan's official return of September 10, 1864, shows his effective 
force as 45,487 (Official Records, XLIII, Part I, p. 61); "Battles and 
Leaders of the Civil War" states that of these about 43,000 were available 
for active field duty. 

Estimates of Early's army at Winchester : 

" Battles and Leaders " states that monthly returns for August 31 
(exclusive of Kershaw's troops, who were not engaged) show an effective 
force of infantry and artillery of 10,646. To this are added 1200 cavalry 
under Fitz Lee and 1700 under Lomax, making a total of 13,288. The 
figures given for cavalry under Lee and Lomax were given the editors by 
General Early in a letter, so they may not be disputed. Early claims, 
however, that the figures for infantry and artillery are placed too high — 
that between August 31 and September 19 his losses were considerable, 
and that at Winchester he had only 8500 muskets. 


and around it been permitted. Within twenty minutes 
that isolated command would have had Carter's thirty 
or forty guns hurling their whizzing shells and solid 
shot, like so many shivering lightning-bolts, through its 
entire lines. Within thirty minutes the yelling Confed- 
erate infantry would have been rushing resistlessly upon 
its flanks and front and rear. No troops on earth could 
have withstood such unprecedented disadvantages, such 
a combination of death-dealing agencies. 

But the concentration was stopped ; the blow was not 
delivered. We halted, we hesitated, we dallied, firing a 
few shots here, attacking with a brigade or a division 
there, and before such feeble assaults the superb Union 
corps retired at intervals and by short stages. We 
waited— for what? It is claimed by the Confederate 
commander that we were threatened with cavalry on 
our right, whereas General L. L. Lomax of the Confed- 
erate cavalry, who combined the high qualities of great 
courage and wise caution, was on that flank and had 
already advanced to a point within a few miles of 
Winchester. It is also true that the Federal reports 
show that Union cavalry was sent to that flank to pre- 
vent our turning Sheridan's left, and was sent back to 
Sheridan's right when it was discovered that there was 
no danger of serious assault by Early's army. We 
waited — waited for weary hours ; waited till those stir- 
ring, driving, and able Federal leaders, Wright, Crook, 
and Getty, could gather again their shattered fragments ; 
waited till the routed men in blue found that no foe was 
pursuing them and until they had time to recover their 
normal composure and courage ; waited till Confederate 
officers lost hope and the fires had gone out in the 
hearts of the privates, who for hours had been asking, 
" What is the matter ! Why don't we ,go forward t " — 
waited for Sheridan to make his ride, rally and bring 
back his routed army, mass it upon our left flank in 


broad daylight and assail us, and thus rout our whole 
army just as, eight hours before, we had under cover of 
darkness massed upon and assailed his left flank and 
routed two thirds of his army. 

General Sheridan had not slept on the field the pre- 
ceding night. He was absent — had gone, I believe, to 
Washington ; and if Payne had succeeded in capturing 
the commanding Union general, as he came near doing, 
he would have discovered that he had not secured the 
man he wanted. Sheridan, however, was on his way 
back to the front. At Winchester he heard the distant 
thunder as it rolled down the Valley from Cedar Creek. 
The western wind brought to his ears what Patrick 
Henry called " the clash of resounding arms " ; and he 
started in the direction from which came the roar of the 
storm. As he rode up the historic pike he met his 
broken and scattered corps, flying in dismay from an 
army which was not pursuing them, running pell-mell 
to the rear from the same foe which, just one month 
before, they had pursued in the opposite direction and 
over the same ground. 

The Federal General Wright, to whom tardy justice 
— if justice at all — has been done (and who suffered the 
same defeat from our flank movement which would have 
overtaken General Sheridan had he been there), had 
done all that any officer could do to stem the resistless 
Confederate rush in the early morning. This gallant 
Union officer had already begun to rally his scattered 
forces to the support of the Sixth Corps, before whose 
front we had strangely dallied for six precious hours. 
In paying this altogether insufficient tribute to General 
Wright, whose valor and skill had been manifested in 
many battles, in no sense do I disparage the achievement 
of Philip Sheridan. He deserved much, and richly did 
his grateful countrymen reward him. His energy and 
dash were equal to the demands upon them. His was a 


clear case of veni, vidi, vici. He halted and rallied and 
enthused his panic-stricken men. While we waited he 
reorganized his dismembered regiments, brigades, and 
divisions, and turned them back toward the lines from 
which they had fled in veriest panic. 

His movements were seen by the clear eyes of the 
vigilant Confederate Signal Corps from their lofty perch 
on Massanutten Mountain. Their flags at once waved 
left and right and front, signalling to us the news, " The 
Yankees are halting and reforming." Next, " They are 
moving back, some on the main pike and some on other 
roads." Next, " The enemy's cavalry has checked Ros- 
ser's pursuit and assumed the offensive." 

Rosser was greatly outnumbered by Sheridan's cav- 
alry, which, supported as it now was by two corps of 
rallied infantry, drove, in turn, these sturdy Confederate 
horsemen to the rear. They contested, however, every 
foot of advance, and joined our Signal Corps in sending 
information of the heavy column approaching. 

The flag signals from the mountain and the messages 
from Rosser became more intense in their warning and 
more frequent as the hours passed. Sheridan's marchers 
were coming closer and massing in heavy column on the 
left, while his cavalry were gathering on our flank and 
rear ; but the commander of the Confederate forces evi- 
dently did not share in the apprehension manifested by 
the warning signals as to the danger which immediately 
threatened us. 

When the battle began in the morning my command 
was on the Confederate right; but at the end of the 
morning's fight, when the fatal halt was called, my imme- 
diate division was on the Confederate left. General 
Early in his report, now published, states that I had 
gotten on the left with my division. He did not seem to 
understand how we reached the left, when we were on 
the right at the opening of the morning fight. Had 


General Early been there when our ringing rifles were 
sounding a reveille to Sheridan's sleeping braves, had he 
seen Evans and Kershaw as I saw them, sweeping with 
the scattering fury of a whirlwind down the Union in- 
trenchments, and following the flying Federals far be- 
yond our extreme left, he would have known exactly 
how we got there. From the Confederate right to the 
Confederate left we had passed in swift pursuit of the 
routed enemy. Across the whole length of the Confed- 
erate front these divisions had swept, trying to catch 
Sheridan's panic-stricken men, and they did catch a 
great many of them. 

When the long hours of dallying with the Sixth [Union] 
Corps had passed, and our afternoon alignment was 
made, there was a long gap, with scarcely a vedette to 
guard it between my right and the main Confederate 
line. The flapping flags from the mountain and the 
messages from Rosser were burdened with warnings that 
the rallied Union infantry and heavy bodies of cavalry 
were already in front of the gap and threatening both 
flank and rear. "With that fearful gap in the line, and 
the appalling conditions which our long delay had in- 
vited, every Confederate commander of our left wing 
foresaw the crash which speedily came. One after an- 
other of my staff was directed to ride with all speed to 
General Early and apprise him of the hazardous situa- 
tion. Receiving no satisfactory answer, I myself finally 
rode to headquarters to urge that he reenforce the left 
and fill the gap, which would prove a veritable death- 
trap if left open many minutes longer ; or else that he 
concentrate his entire force for desperate defence or im- 
mediate withdrawal. He instructed me to stretch out 
the already weak lines and take a battery of guns to the 
left. I rode back at a furious gallop to execute these 
most unpromising movements. It was too late. The 
last chance had passed of saving the army from the 


doom which, had been threatened for honrs. Major 
Kirkpatrick had started with his guns, rushing across 
the plain to the crumbling Confederate lines like fire- 
engines tearing through streets in the vain effort to save 
a building already wrapped in flames and tumbling to 
the ground. I reached my command only in time to find 
the unresisted columns of Sheridan rushing through this 
gap, and, worse still, to find Clement A. Evans, whom I 
left in command, almost completely surrounded by liter- 
ally overwhelming numbers; but he was handling the 
men with great skill, and fighting in almost every direc- 
tion with characteristic coolness, It required counter- 
charges of the most daring character to prevent the 
utter destruction of the command and effect its with- 
drawal. At the same instant additional Union forces, 
which had penetrated through the vacant space, were 
assailing our main line on the flank and rolling it up 
like a scroll. Regiment after regiment, brigade after 
brigade, in rapid succession was crushed, and, like hard 
clods of clay under a pelting rain, the superb commands 
crumbled to pieces. The sun was sinking, but the spas- 
modic battle still raged. Wrapped in clouds of smoke and 
gathering darkness, the overpowered Confederates stub- 
bornly yielded before the advancing Federals. 

There was no yelling on the one side, nor huzzahs 
on the other. The gleaming blazes from hot muzzles 
made the murky twilight lurid. The line of light from 
Confederate guns grew shorter and resistance fainter. 
The steady roll of musketry, punctuated now and then 
by peals of thunder from retreating or advancing bat- 
teries, suddenly ceased ; and resistance ended as the last 
organized regiment of Early's literally overwhelmed 
army broke and fled in the darkness. As the tumult of 
battle died away, there came from the north side of the 
plain a dull, heavy swelling sound like the roaring of a 
distant cyclone, the omen of additional disaster. It was 


unmistakable^ Sheridan's horsemen were riding furi- 
ously across the open fields of grass to intercept the 
Confederates before they crossed Cedar Creek. Many 
were cut off and captured. As the sullen roar from 
horses' hoofs beating the soft turf of the plain told of the 
near approach of the cavalry, all effort at orderly retreat 
was abandoned. The only possibility of saving the rear 
regiments was in unrestrained flight — every man for 
himself. Mounted officers gathered here and there 
squads of brave men who poured volleys into the ad- 
vancing lines of blue ; but it was too late to make effec- 
tive resistance. 

In the dim starlight, after crossing the creek, I gath- 
ered around me a small force representing nearly every 
command in Early's army, intending to check, if possible, 
the further pursuit, or at least to delay it long enough 
to enable the shattered and rapidly retreating fragments 
to escape. The brave fellows responded to my call and 
formed a line across the pike. The effort was utterly 
fruitless, however, and resulted only in hair-breadth 
escapes and unexampled experiences. 

It has never been settled whether, in escaping from the 
British dragoons under Tryon, General Israel Putnam 
rode or rolled or slid down the precipice at Horse Neck 
in 1779 ; but whichever method of escape he adopted, I 
can "go him two better," as the sportsmen say, for I did 
all three at Cedar Creek, eighty-five years later, in escap- 
ing from American dragoons under Philip Sheridan. At 
the point where I attempted to make a stand at night, 
the pike ran immediately on the edge of one of those 
abrupt and rugged limestone cliffs down which it was 
supposed not even a rabbit could plunge without break- 
ing his neck ; and I proved it to be nearly true. One 
end of my short line of gray-jackets rested on the pike 
at this forbidding precipice. I had scarcely gotten my 
men in position when I discovered that Sheridan's dra- 


goons had crossed the creek higher up, and that I was 
surrounded by them on three sides, while on the 
other was this breakneck escarpment. These enter- 
prising horsemen in search of their game had located my 
little band, and at the sound of the bugle they came in 
headlong charge. Only one volley from my men and the 
Federal cavalry were upon them. Realizing that our 
capture was imminent, I shouted to my men to escape, 
if possible, in the darkness. One minute more and I 
should have had a Yankee carbine at my head, inviting 
my surrender. The alternatives were the precipice or 
Yankee prison. There was no time to debate the ques- 
tion, not a moment. Wheeling my horse to the dismal 
brink, I drove my spurs into his flanks, and he plunged 
downward and tumbled headlong in one direction, send- 
ing me in another. How I reached the bottom of that 
abyss I shall never know ; for I was rendered temporarily 
unconscious. Strangely enough, I was only stunned, 
and in no way seriously hurt. My horse, too, though 
bruised, was not disabled. For a moment I thought 
he was dead, for he lay motionless and prone at full 
length. However, he promptly responded to my call 
and rose to his feet ; and although the bare places on his 
head and hips showed that he had been hurt, he was 
ready without a groan to bear me again in any direction 
I might wish to go. The question was, which way to go. 
I was alone in that dark wooded glen — that is, my faith- 
ful horse was the only comrade and friend near enough 
to aid me. I was safe enough from discovery, although 
so near the pike that the rumble of wheels and even the 
orders of the Union officers were at times quite audible. 
It was, perhaps, an hour or more after nightfall, and yet 
the vanguard of Sheridan's army had not halted. Con- 
siderable numbers of them were now between me and the 
retreating Confederates. The greater part of the country 
on each side of the pike, however, was open, and I was 


fairly familiar with it all. There was no serious diffi- 
culty, therefore, in passing around the Union forces, who 
soon went into camp for the night. Lonely, thoughtful, 
and sad, — sadder and more thoughtful, if possible, on this 
nineteenth night of October than on the corresponding 
night of the previous month at "Winchester, — I rode 
through open fields, now and then finding squads of 
Confederates avoiding the pike to escape capture, and 
occasionally a solitary soldier as lonely, if not as sad and 
thoughtful, as I. 

Thus ended the day which had witnessed a most bril- 
liant victory converted into one of the most complete 
and ruinous routs of the entire war. It makes one dizzy 
to think of such a headlong descent from the Elysium of 
triumph to the Erebus of complete collapse. 



Analysis of the great mistake— Marshalling of testimony — Documen- 
tary proof of the error— Early's "glory enough for one day" theory 
—What eye-witnesses say— The defence of the Confederate soldier— 
A complete vindication. 

THE sun in his circuit shines on few lovelier land- 
scapes than that of Cedar Creek in the Valley of 
Virginia, which was the wrestling-ground of the two 
armies on October 19, 1864; and no day in the great 
war's calendar, nor in the chronicles of any other war, 
so far as my knowledge extends, was filled with such 
great surprises — so much of the unexpected to both 
armies. Other days during our war witnessed a brilliant 
triumph or a crushing defeat for the one army or the 
other ; but no other single day saw each of the contend- 
ing armies victorious and vanquished on the same field 
and between the rising and setting of the same sun. 
This nineteenth day of October, therefore, is, I believe, 
the most unique day in the annals of war. It was Derby 
day for fleet-footed racers on both sides ; and the com- 
bined experiences of the two combatants during this 
single day constitute the very climax of battle-born an- 

Thomas Gr. Jones, since governor of Alabama and now 
judge of the United States Court, was then an aide on 
my staff, and sat on his horse at my side when General 



Early announced that we had had " glory enough for one 
day." Boy soldier as he was then, he felt and expressed 
serious forebodings of the disaster which was to follow 
in the wake of our great victory. 

It was the anniversary of Yorktown and of the sur- 
render of Cornwallis to Washington, which virtually 
ended the struggle of our fathers for liberty. After 
General Early consented to adopt the plan which had 
been submitted and urged, members of my staff and 
others, reposing implicit faith in the fulfilment of my 
predictions of a crushing defeat to Sheridan's army, 
confidently anticipated that the next morning — Octo- 
ber 19, 1864 — would witness for the Confederates, who 
were fighting for Southern independence, a victory 
almost as signal as that won October 19, 1781, by the 
Rebels of the Revolution, who were fighting for Ameri- 
can independence. It is true that the conditions sur- 
rounding the Confederate cause in the autumn of 1864 
were far more desperate than those around the American 
Revolutionists in the autumn of 1781. There were, how- 
ever, in our calculations, elements which still inspired 
hope. If General Sheridan's army could be crushed and 
large numbers captured, if it could be even disorganized 
and dispersed, new life and vigor would be given to the 
still defiant Confederacy. If the victory of the coming 
morning, which seemed assured, should be followed by 
incessant blows and pressing pursuit, it would open the 
way to Washington, expose Northern States to imme- 
diate invasion, magnify to Northern apprehension the 
numbers and effectiveness of Early's army, compel Gen- 
eral Grant to send a larger force than Sheridan's to meet 
us, enable General Lee at Petersburg to assume the 
offensive and possibly arouse a strong peace sentiment 
among the Northern masses. The complete surprise of 
the Union army, and the resistless Confederate charges 
at dawn in flank, front, and rear, vindicated the confident 


predictions of victory. The disastrous Confederate de- 
feat in the evening made clear the mistake of hesitating 
and halting which were a fatal abandonment of an 
essential part of the plan. 

The story is short and simple, but sombre to the last 
degree. To briefly recapitulate, orders from headquarters 
put an end in the early morning to concentration and 
energetic pursuit, and, therefore, to all hope of complet- 
ing the great victory by capturing or crushing the last 
intervening line in blue between us and the Potomac. 
General Cullen A. Battle of Alabama was severely 
wounded while leading his men with characteristic dash 
and enthusiasm; but his brigade, one of the smallest, 
and also one of the pluckiest, charged a battery sup- 
ported by the Sixth Corps, — the only one left,— and cap- 
tured in open field six additional pieces of artillery. 1 
What would have been the inevitable result of the con- 
centrated enfilade fire from all of Carter's guns tearing 
through the whole length of that line, while the entire 
army of Confederate infantry assailed it in front, flank, 
and rear ? 

History (so called) does not always give a true diag- 
nosis of the cases it deals with and attempts to analyze. 
It will be a long time, I fear, before all the records of the 
great fight between the States will tell, like sworn wit- 
nesses in the courts, "the truth, the whole truth, and 
nothing but the truth." 

I am writing reminiscences ; but if they are to be of 
any value they must also stand the test applied to wit- 
nesses in courts of justice. The unexpected and un- 
explained absence of my official report of Cedar Creek 
from the list of those published with General Early's in 
the War Records makes clear my duty to record in these 

1 An old memorandum written by General Battle after he was carried to 
hospital states that the number of guns captured by his brigade was twelve 
instead of six. 


reminiscences some statements which appear to me es- 
sential to the trnth of history. 

Captain Jed Hotchkiss, of General Early's staff, has 
fortunately left a Journal in which he recorded events as 
they occurred day by day. In that Journal, which has 
been published by the Government among official papers 
in the records of the " War of the Rebellion " (First Se- 
ries, Vol. XLIII, Part I, pp. 567-588), Captain Hotchkiss 
made at the time this memomrandum : " Saturday, 
October 29th. ... A contention between Generals Gor- 
don and Early about the battle of Cedar Creek," etc. 

There were a number of strongly controverted points 
between us ; but the only one in which the whole country 
is concerned, involving as it does the character of 
Southern soldiery, the only one which I feel com- 
pelled to notice in this book, is the question as to- 
the responsibility for the disaster at Cedar Creek after 
the signal victory had been won. Two reasons have 
been given for this revulsion, and both have evoked no 
little discussion. If General Sheridan and his friends 
had been consulted, they doubtless would have added a 
third, namely, his arrival on the field. This, however, was 
not considered by General Early and myself, and it did 
not disturb the harmony of our counsels. We had 
widely differing explanations for the disaster, but neither 
of us suggested General Sheridan's arrival as the cause. 
General Early insisted, and so stated in his now pub- 
lished report, that the " bad conduct " of his own men 
caused the astounding disaster ; while I was convinced 
that it was due solely to the unfortunate halting and 
delay after the morning victory. I insisted then, and 
still insist, that our men deserved only unstinted praise. 
I believed then, and I believe now, that neither General 
Sheridan nor any other commander could have pre- 
vented the complete destruction of his infantry if in the 
early hours of the morning we had coucentrated our fire 


and assaults upon his only remaining corps. The situa- 
tion was this : two thirds of Sheridan's army had been 
shivered by blows delivered in flank and rear. If, there- 
fore, Early's entire army, triumphant, unhurt, and ex- 
hilarated, had been instantly hurled against that solitary 
corps in accordance with the general plan of the battle, 
it is certain that there would not have been left in it an 
organized company; and many hours before General 
Sheridan made his ride, the last nucleus around which 
he could possibly have rallied his shattered and flying 
forces would have been destroyed. 

If my official report of the battle of Cedar Creek had 
been published with General Early's, it would perhaps 
not be necessary for me to speak of the " contention " 
mentioned by Captain Hotchkiss in his Journal, which I 
have recently seen for the first time. Justice to others, 
however, to the living and the dead, demands that I now 
make record in this book of some facts connected with 
that "contention," and that I send to posterity this 
record in connection with his report. 

Thousands of living men and hundreds of thousands 
of their descendants, and of the descendants of those who 
fell heroically fighting under the Southern flag, have a 
profound, a measureless interest in the final settlement 
of that controverted point of which I am now to speak 
from personal knowledge, and from the testimony of 
scores of witnesses who participated in the battle and 
whose military acumen and experience give special 
weight to their words. 

It is due to General Early to say that his physical 
strength was not sufficient to enable him to as- 
cend Massanutten Mountain and survey the field 
from that lofty peak. He had not, therefore, the 
opportunity to take in the tremendous possibilities 
which that view revealed. He had not been permitted 
to stand upon that summit and trace with his own eye 


the inviting lines for the Confederate night march; to 
see for himself, in the conditions immediately before him, 
the sure prophecy of Confederate victory, and to have 
his brain set on fire by clearly perceiving that the 
movement, if adopted and executed with vigor and 
pressed to the end, must inevitably result in bringing to 
Sheridan's army, in quick succession, complete surprise, 
universal dismay, boundless panic, and finally rout, 
capture, or annihilation. Again, General Early was 
not on that portion of the field which was struck by the 
Confederate cyclone at dawn; nor did he witness its 
destructive sweep through Sheridan's camps and along 
his breastworks, leaving in its wide track not a Federal 
soldier with arms in his hands. Major Hunter, my 
chief of staff, rode back to meet General Early, with 
instructions to give him my compliments and inform 
him that two thirds of Sheridan's army were routed and 
nearly all his artillery captured, while our troops had suf- 
fered no serious loss. The Confederate commander was 
naturally elated, and felt that we had had " glory enough 
for one day." He, therefore, halted. The pressing 
question is, Was that halt fatal ? Was it responsible for 
the afternoon disaster, or was the " bad conduct " of the 
men responsible ! This question was the cause of the 
" contention " of which Captain Hotchkiss made record, 
and which, in view of the absence of my report from 
the published records, and under the inexorable demands 
of duty to living and dead comrades, I am bound to 
answer in perfect fairness but also with truth and 

General Sheridan, in his official report of Cedar Creek, 1 
speaking of the " heavy turning column " (my command) 
which crossed the river at Bowman's Ford, describes the 
assault as " striking Crook, who held the left of our 
line in flank and rear, so unexpectedly and forcibly as 

l "War of the Eebellion," First Series, Vol. XLIII, Part, I, p. 52. 


to drive in his outposts, invade his camp, and turn his 
position. . . . This was followed by a direct attack 
upon our front [this was Kershaw's assault], and the 
result was that the whole army was driven back in con- 
fusion to a point about one mile and a half north of 
Middletown, a very large portion of the infantry not 
even preserving a company organization." He adds that 
about nine o'clock, "on reaching Mill Creek, half a mile 
south of Winchester, the head of the fugitives appeared 
in sight, trains and men coming to the rear with appall- 
ing rapidity." He left officers to do what they could 
"in stemming the torrent of fugitives." This frank 
statement of General Sheridan makes plain the truth 
that the exultant Confederates were halted at the time 
when the " whole army [Union] had been driven back in 
confusion," when there was not left in a large portion of 
Union infantry "a company organization," and when 
" the torrent of fugitives " had gone to the rear with 
such " appalling rapidity " as to have reached Mill Creek, 
eight or ten miles away, by nine o'clock in the morning. 
I submit that I might rest the whole of my " contention " 
on these remarkable admissions of General Sheridan as 
to the condition of his army when the fatal Confederate 
halt was ordered. 

General Sheridan also states that the attack in flank 
and rear, which was made by my troops, was followed by 
one in front. This latter was promptly and superbly 
made by Kershaw. General Sheridan's statement clearly 
shows that the assault of my command preceded, but was 
promptly followed by, Kershaw's. Captain Hotchkiss of 
General Early's staff records in his Journal, penned at 
the time, precisely the same facts (Vol. XLIII, p. 581). 
These Official Records from both sides render it unneces- 
sary for me to make any reply whatever to General 
Early's intimation in his report that I was a little late in 
making my attack at Cedar Creek. A vast array of tes- 


timony (Federal and Confederate) is at hand showing 
conclusively that General Early was mistaken in sup- 
posing that my command was late on that October 

Colonel Thomas H. Carter, General Early's chief of 
artillery on this field, and now the honored proctor of 
the University of Virginia, writes me from the univer- 
sity : " I confirm with emphasis your opinion that Gen- 
eral Early made a fatal mistake in stopping the pursuit 
of the enemy, with the Sixth Corps retiring before 
artillery alone and the other two corps in full and dis- 
organized flight at nine o'clock in the morning. Captain 
Southall's letter will show plainly my views as expressed 
to General Early in his presence." 

Captain S. V. Southall, now of Charlottesville, Virginia, 
in the letter to which Colonel Carter refers, in speaking 
of General Early at the moment he received the news of 
the morning victory, says: "His face became radiant 
with joy, and in his gladness he exclaimed, ' The sun of 
Middletown! The sun of Middletown ! '" The last of 
Sheridan's army in its retreat had then reached the bor- 
ders of Middletown. Captain Southall then reminds 
Colonel Carter of his suggesting to General Early the 
propriety of advancing, and says: "Your suggestion 
looking to the completion of our victory was ignored. 
Things remained in this way for hours, during which 
time Sheridan returned." Colonel Carter, in his own 
letter on that point, says : " At a later interview with 
General Early, I explained that the troops were eager to 
go ahead, and I had been questioned all along the line to 
know the cause of the delay. ... Of course, Sher- 
idan, finding his cavalry corps intact and equal in num- 
ber to our army, and the Sixth Corps unbroken, though 
demoralized, was right to assume the offensive, and his 
ride on the black horse will go down in history and 
romance as a tribute to his military fame. Nevertheless, 


if we had done our proper part in pursuit, his arrival 
would have accomplished nothing. Every practical 
fighting man in our war knows that troops scattered and 
panic-stricken cannot be rallied in the face of hot and 
vigorous pursuit." 

Major R. W. Hunter, who was all day actively partici- 
pating in the battle, speaking of the destruction of two 
thirds of the Union army by that flank and rear attack, 
says in his written statement of facts : " Neither the 
famous Macedonian phalanx, nor Caesar's Tenth Legion, 
nor the Old Guard of Napoleon, nor Wellington's hollow 
squares, which saved him at Waterloo, nor any possible 
organization of troops, could have withstood the com- 
bined assault of infantry, artillery, and cavalry that it 
was in our power to have made upon the Sixth Corps on 
that eventful morning after the complete rout of the 
Eighth and Nineteenth Corps. Why was not that con- 
centrated assault made ? " 

Shortly after the battle of Cedar Creek the news- 
papers were filled with descriptions of the morning 
victory and evening rout. That " contention " between 
General Early and myself was inaugurated by his inti- 
mation, in the presence of other officers, that I had 
inspired some of those accounts. Notwithstanding my 
appreciation of General Early's high qualities, and in 
spite of the official courtesy due him as my superior 
officer (which, I believe, was never ignored), I could not 
do less than indignantly resent the injustice of such an 
intimation. At the same time, my sense of duty to the 
army and regard for truth compelled me candidly to 
say, and I did say, that the facts had been truly stated 
as to our unfortunate halt and fatal delay. 

General Clement A. Evans, whose superb record as i 
soldier and exalted character as a man and minister of 
the gospel entitle any statement from him to unques- 
tioning belief, was a division commander in the moving 


attack which swept away Sheridan's two corps. Gen- 
eral Evans is now at the head of the Board of Pardons 
of the State of Georgia, and, learning that I was writ- 
ing of Cedar Creek, sent me a strong letter, from which 
I make a brief quotation. His statements fully corrob- 
orate those made at the time in the newspaper reports. 
For reasons which will be readily understood, I omit 
from the quotation the words used by General Evans 
as to the credit for the morning victory and the respon- 
sibility for the evening disaster, and give only this 
concluding clause : " And the Cedar Creek disaster was 
caused by the halt which you did not order and which I 
know you opposed." 

General Thomas L. Rosser, who commanded the 
Confederate cavalry on the field, says : " The sun never 
rose on a more glorious victory and never set on a more 
inglorious defeat. Had . . . the fight continued . . . 
as it was so gloriously begun, Sheridan's ride of twenty 
miles away would never have been sung," etc. 

General Gabriel C. Wharton, now of Radford, Vir- 
ginia, who commanded a division of General Early's 
army at Cedar Creek, speaking of some movements by 
our troops just after the rout of Sheridan's two corps, 
says : " I supposed we were arranging for a general 
movement to the front, and expected every minute 
orders to advance; but no orders came, and there we 
stood — no enemy in our front for hours, except some 
troops moving about in the woodland on a hill nearly a 
mile in our front." He adds : " I have never been able 
to understand why General Early did not advance, or 
why he remained in line for four or five hours after the 
brilliant victory of the morning." 

Captain Hotchkiss, in his contribution to the recently 
published " Confederate Military History " (Vol. Ill, p. 
509), after paying to his old chief, General Early, the 
compliments which he richly deserved as an " able 


strategist, most skilful commander, and one of the 
bravest of the brave," nevertheless characterizes the 
fatal halt at Cedar Cresk as " this inexcusable delay."" 

I also present another item of testimony, which was 
given under most interesting circumstances. During 
the winter which followed this battle there occurred, in 
connection with this Valley campaign, one of the most 
thrilling incidents of the entire war. It exhibited as 
much daring and dash as the famous scouting expedition 
of the brave Federal squad who came into Georgia and 
scouted in rear of our army, and then, seizing an engine 
on the "Western and Atlantic Railroad, fled upon it back 
toward Chattanooga and the Union lines. The daring 
adventure of which I now speak was, however, far more 
successful than this bold scouting in Georgia. While 
northern Virginia and Maryland were in the icy em- 
brace of midwinter, a small squad of plucky Confed- 
erates from Captain McNeill's Partisan Rangers rode at 
night into Cumberland, Maryland, where 5000 armed 
men of the Union army were stationed. These auda- 
cious young Confederates eluded the Union guards, 
located the headquarters of Major-Generals Crook and 
Kelley, captured them in their beds, and brought them, 
as prisoners of war mounted on their own horses, safely 
into Confederate lines. General Crook was the distin- 
guished commander of the Union troops whose flank 
and rear my command had struck at dawn on Cedar 
Creek. When he was brought to headquarters as pris- 
oner, General Early interviewed him in reference to that 
battle. Captain Hotchkiss states that in the interview 
General Crook represented the Sixth Corps, on the morn- 
ing of the 19th of October at Cedar Creek, as almost as 
" badly damaged " as the other corps, and in no condition 
to resist attack. 1 

It will not surprise the thoughtful student of this 

i "Confederate Military History," Vol. Ill, p. 538. 


marvellous battle to know that General Early himself 
realized later the fatal mistake of the halt at Cedar 
Creek, and gave an indicative caution to his faithful 
staff officer, who was leaving with a sketch of Cedar 
Creek for General Lee. Captain Hotchkiss says : " Gen- 
eral Early told me not to tell General Lee that we ought 
to have advanced in the morning at Middletown, for, 
said he, 'we ought to have done so.'" ' 

Anything more on this point would be superfluous. 
I should not have felt it necessary to produce these 
proofs as to the responsibility of the halting and delay 
but for the fact that they bear directly and cogently 
upon the other infinitely more important inquiry, " Was 
the 'bad conduct' of the troops wholly or partially, directly 
or remotely, responsible for that evening disaster?" 
Posterity may not trouble itself much about the halting 
and hesitation at Cedar Creek ; but posterity— undoubt- 
edly Confederate posterity — will be profoundly interested 
in this inquiry: "Did Confederate officers and men 
abandon their posts of duty and danger to plunder the 
captured camps and thus convert one of the most brill- 
iant of victories into a most disastrous defeat and utter 

This charge so directly, so vitally concerns the repu- 
tation, the honor, the character of Southern soldiers (it 
concerns all American soldiers, for these men were 
Americans of purest blood) as to demand the most 
exhaustive examination. Let the fiercest search-light 
of historical scrutiny be turned upon those men. Let 
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth go 
to posterity. With the purpose of contributing to this 
end, I shall incorporate, not in foot-notes but in the 
body of this chapter, all the important and trustworthy 
evidence at my command bearing upon this question, 

1 Hotchkiss's Journal, "War Kecords," First Series, Part I, 
Vol. XLIII, p. 582. 


which is the gravest that has ever been asked or could 
be asked concerning Confederate soldiers. I shall give 
proofs which cannot be called in question, in extracts 
from the official reports and written statements of all 
the prominent Confederate actors in that battle, so far 
as I can possibly procure them. 

To begin with, I quote fully and carefully from Gen- 
eral Early's reports to General Lee, which I did not see 
until they were published by the Government in the 
records of the " War of the Rebellion." In his despatch, 
dated October 20, 1864, speaking of his troops, General 
Early says : " But for their bad conduct I should have 
defeated Sheridan's whole force." * In his more formal 
report of October 21st, speaking of an order said to have 
been sent to Kershaw and Gordon to advance, he says : 
" They stated in reply that . . . their ranks were so 
depleted by the number of men who had stopped in the 
camps to plunder that they could not advance." 2 In 
the same report on the same page, he says : " So many of 
our men had stopped in camp to plunder (in which I am 
sorry to say that officers participated)," etc. Again, in 
another connection, he says : " We had within our grasp 
a glorious victory, and lost it by the uncontrollable pro- 
pensity to plunder, in the first place, and the subsequent 
panic, . . . which was without sufficient cause," etc. 
In another connection, speaking of the efforts to guard 
against plundering, he says : " The truth is, we have few 
field and company officers worth anything," etc. Before 
closing his report he again says : " But the victory already 
gained was lost by the subsequent bad conduct of the 

Before introducing the array of witnesses and the 
incontrovertible facts which overwhelmingly vindicate 
these chivalrous and self-sacrificing men, I wish to say, 

i War Records, First Series, Vol. XLIII, Part I, p. 560. 
2 Ibid., pp. 562 and 563. 


as a matter of simple justice to General Early, that he 
was misled. His place was at the front, and after he 
came upon the field he was there — as he always was, 
when duty called him. No soldier or citizen was braver 
or more loyally devoted to our cause than Jubal A. 
Early; but, as General Lee once said of another, he 
was "very pertinacious of his opinions," and when once 
formed he rarely abandoned them. He fought against 
secession and for the Union until it was broken. He tied 
his faith to the Confederacy and fought for that while it 
lived, and he did not abandon its cause until both the 
Confederacy and himself were dead. He had been led 
to believe that his men at Cedar Creek had left their 
places in line to gather the tempting debris from the 
Federal wreck, and he steadfastly stood by this state- 
ment. Little wonder, then, that there should be the 
" contention " which Captain Hotchkiss has noted. 

General Kershaw is dead, but were he living he would 
unite with me, as shown by the reports of his officers, in 
the statement that no such order ever reached us as the 
one which General Early sent. No reply was ever re- 
turned by General Kershaw or myself to the effect that 
we could not advance. The truth is we were not only 
urgently anxious to advance, but were astounded at any 
halt whatever. Our troops were not absent. They were 
there in line, eager to advance, as will appear from the 
unanswerable proofs submitted. General Evans, who 
commanded my division while I commanded the Second 
Corps in the morning victory, says: "When you con- 
gratulated me on the field immediately after our great 
victory ... I was so impressed by your remarks as to 
be convinced that we would at once pursue our advan- 
tage. ... I had small details sent over the ground 
we had traversed in order to bring up every man who 
had fallen out for any cause except for wounds. . . . 
When the attack [afternoon] came from the enemy my 


command was not straggling and plundering. ... I 
wish I could see my men fully vindicated as to their 
conduct in this battle." 

General Cullen A. Battle says: "I saw no plundering 
at Cedar Creek, not even a straggler. My troops were 
in the best possible condition." In another statement 
he says : " I never saw troops behave better than ours 
did at Cedar Creek." 

Major-General Wharton, who was in the best possible 
position to know if there was any straggling or plunder- 
ing, uses these words : " The report of the soldiers strag- 
gling and pillaging the enemy's camps is not correct. 
. . . I had a pretty fair view of a large part of the 
field over which you had driven the enemy. It is true 
that there were parties passing over the field and perhaps 
pillaging, but most of them were citizens, teamsters and 
persons attached to the quartermaster's and other de- 
partments, and perhaps a few soldiers who had taken 
the wounded to the rear. No, general ; the disaster was 
not due to the soldiers leaving their commands and 

Of all the reports of Cedar Creek which have been 
published in the War Eecords, not one except General 
Early's alone remotely hints at plundering as the cause 
of that unprecedented revulsion after the morning 
victory. Only two of those reports refer to the matter in 
any way whatever, and in both the language completely 
exonerates these devoted men. General Bryan Grimes, 
who was promoted to command of Ramseur's division, 
says : " Up to the hour of 4 p.m. the troops of this divi- 
sion, both officers and men, with a few exceptions, be- 
haved most admirably and were kept well in hand, but 
little plundering and only a few shirking duty." He 
adds: "Major Whiting, inspector, rendered signal ser- 
vice by preventing all straggling and plundering." l 

!War Records, First Series, Vol. XLIII, Part I, p. 600 


John R. Winston, in his report (same vol., p. 608), says : 

"The men went through a camp just as it was 
deserted, with hats, boots, blankets, tents, and such 
things as tempt our soldiers scattered over it, and after 
diligent inquiry I heard of but one man who even 
stopped to pick up a thing. He got a hat, and has 
charges preferred against him." He refers with pride to 
the "splendid conduct of these troops," etc. 

That gallant soldier J. M. Goggin, who commanded 
Conner's brigade of Kershaw's division, in his official 
report, says : " Up to this time " [the afternoon assault 
by Sheridan] " both men and officers had obeyed with 
commendable cheerfulness and alacrity all orders given 
them. ... I cannot forbear giving both officers 
and men that praise which is so justly their due for the 
noble display of all the admirable and true qualities of 
the soldier up to the time the retreat was ordered ; and 
no one who witnessed the advance of the brigade that 
day against different positions of the enemy will hesitate 
to bestow upon it their [his] unqualified admiration " 
(p. 594). 

"While almost any one of these pointed and just testi- 
monials would be a sufficient vindication of these self- 
immolating veterans, yet I must introduce here the 
most comprehensive statement of all. It was written 
by the Rev. A. C. Hopkins, now pastor of the Presby- 
terian Church of Charlestown, West Virginia. He was, 
during the war, one of the leading Confederate chap- 
lains. In the different battles he was present, mingling 
with the soldiers, caring for the wounded, and doing 
admirable service in encouraging the men who were on 
the fighting-line. No dangers deterred him; no sacri- 
fices were too great for him to make. Dr. Hopkins was 
one of those sterling characters who esteemed honor and 
truth as of far greater value than life itself. In the 
carefully prepared statement which he wrote of Cedar 


Creek, he says: "The writer was a 'free-lance' that 
day, and all over the field from rear to front, from the 
time Gordon struck Crook's lines at daybreak till the 
afternoon. He was sometimes with our lines and some- 
times with the wounded, over the field and through the 
Yankee camps. ... It is true that many men straggled 
and plundered ; but they were men who in large num- 
bers had been wounded in the summer's campaign, who 
had come up to the army for medical examination, and 
who came like a division down the pike behind Whar- 
ton, and soon scattered over the field and camps and 
helped themselves. They were soldiers more or less 
disabled, and not on duty. This body I myself saw as 
they came on the battle-field and scattered. They were 
not men with guns. But there can be no doubt that 
General Early mistook them for men who had fallen out 
of ranks." In speaking of that " contention " between 
General Early and myself which was evoked by this 
serious misapprehension as to the " bad conduct " of our 
brave men, Dr. Hopkins says: "Nearly all the in- 
spectors who sent reports for 19tn October to General 
Gordon either gave the numbers of men carried up to 
the lines during the day or vindicated their commands 
from General Early's imputation. And these inspectors' 
reports were consolidated at General Gordon's head- 
quarters and the substance forwarded in his report to 
General Early. Unfortunately, no inspectors' reports 
appear among the published records, and they [the 
records] contain not one word from General Gordon 
on this battle." 

It seems to me unnecessary to lengthen this chapter 
by additional evidence or by any argument. The proofs 
already adduced compass the irrefutable vindication of 
the winners of the morning victory at Cedar Creek. 
Many of the dead commanders left on record their testi- 
mony ; and it is true, I think, that every living Conf ed- 


erate officer who commanded at Cedar Creek a corps, or 
division, or brigade, or regiment, or company, would tes- 
tify that his men fought with unabated ardor, and did 
not abandon their places in line to plunder the captured 
camps. It is truly marvellous, therefore, that the state- 
ment that their "bad conduct" caused the disastrous re- 
verse has gone into books and is treated as history 
in all sections of the country. Even ex-President Jeffer- 
son Davis, the last man on earth who would knowingly 
do Confederate soldiers an injustice, was totally misled 
by General Early's statement. 

If my official report of the battle of Cedar Creek had 
been forwarded to General Lee and published in the 
War Records, I might be pardoned by my comrades and 
their children if I did not write as I am now writing in 
vindication of the men who fought so superbly and ex- 
hibited such marked self-denial in that most unique of 
battles. Not for my sake, but for theirs, I deeply regret 
the absence of my report from those records. It is only 
since this book was begun that my attention was called 
to this fact. It would seem that my report never reached 
General Lee. Otherwise it would have been among his 
papers, and assuredly have found its place in the volumes 
issued by the Government. General Lee, however, did 
not agree with his lieutenant commanding in the Valley 
as to the kind of metal these men were made of. On 
September 27th he wrote General Early: "I have such 
confidence in the men and officers that I am sure all will 
unite in defence of the country." ! These men were not 
strangers to General Lee. He knew them. He had seen 
them in the past years of the war, performing deeds of 
valor and exercising a self-denial the simple record of 
which would rival the legends of the romantic era of 
chivalry. They had not changed, except to grow, if 
possible, into a more self-sacrificing manhood as the de- 

1 War Kecords, First Series, Vol. XLIII, Part I, p. 558. 


mands upon them became more exacting. Whatever 
they had been in the battles around Richmond, at Fred- 
ericksburg, at Chancellorsville, at Gettysburg, at Cold 
Harbor, in the Wilderness, and in the great counter- 
charge at Spottsylvania, they were the same at Cedar 
Creek. The men who were in the captured camps were 
not the soldiers who fought the morning battle and won 
the morning victory. The "plunderers," if such they 
may be called, were not the fiery South Carolinians who, 
under Kershaw, had so fearlessly and fiercely stormed 
and carried the Union breastworks at dawn. They were 
not the steadfast Virginians who, under Wharton, had 
rushed into the combat, adding fresh momentum to the 
resistless Confederate charge. They were not the men 
under my command, the Second Corps, which Jackson 
had immortalized and which had helped to immortalize 
him. They were not the men who, under Evans, and 
Ramseur, and Crimes, and Battle, and Pegram, had be- 
fore daybreak plunged into the cold water to their waists 
or armpits, and with drenched bodies and water-soaked 
uniforms had warmed themselves in the hot furnace of 
battle. These men at Cedar Creek were heroes, descended 
from heroic sires, inspired by heroic women, trained to 
self-denial and self-sacrifice through four years of the 
most heroic of wars, and battling through cold and heat 
and hunger against heroic Americans. Were these the 
men to abandon their places in front to plunder in the 
rear 1 Who, then, were the men in the captured camps 
who were reported to General Early? They were men 
without arms, the partially disabled, whom the army 
surgeons had pronounced scarcely strong enough for the 
long and rough night march and the strenuous work of 
the battle. These half-sick and disabled men had come 
along the smooth, open pike at their leisure, when they 
learned of the great victory. They came thinking it no 
robbery to supply themselves with shoes and trousers 


and overcoats and blankets and "grub" from the vast 
accumulations purchased that morning by the toil and 
blood of their able-bodied comrades— from the stores 
which the richly provided Federals, in their unceremon- 
ious departure, had neglected to take away. 

Many years have passed since the Confederate com- 
mander at Cedar Creek was misled and induced to place 
on record his belief as to the bad conduct of his men — 
a belief, I repeat, fixed in his mind by misinformation 
and grounded on total misapprehension. But many 
years had also passed after the battle of Cold Harbor 
before the exculpation of the brave men of the Union 
army was effected by General Horace Porter in his book, 
" Campaigning with Grant." The refutation of that 
wrong, although long delayed, will be none the less ap- 
preciated by Union veterans and by all their descend- 
ants. It is not too late, I trust, for the truth, as now 
revealed, to vindicate these Confederates. Appeals, 
pathetic and earnest, have been made to me for years, 
the burden of which has been : "I want you, before you 
die, to do justice to the men who fought at Cedar 
Creek." The stoniest heart would be moved by such 
appeals. They would stir the sensibilities of any man 
who saw those dauntless veterans on that field or who 
fought and suffered with them in the Confederate army. 
I had a right, however, to suppose that the great War 
Records would include my report and the inspectors' 
reports, every one of which, I believe, without an excep- 
tion, was a vindication of that little army whose valor 
and scrupulous, soldierly bearing has never been sur- 
passed. I protested at the time against the injustice 
done them. Hence the " contention " recorded by Cap- 
tain Hotchkiss. I left the substance of that protest in 
permanent form, but that is lost ; and now I esteem it 
one of the most imperative duties devolving upon me to 
do all in my power to guide the future historian to a 


clear apprehension of the truth in regard to the chival- 
rous character and conduct of these loyal men. Al- 
though the unparalleled wrong which, through 
misapprehension, was done them may have already 
crystallized in war records and so-called histories, yet I 
shall live and die in the confident hope that the irrefu- 
table proofs herein adduced, which have never before been 
grouped and marshalled, will stand as their complete 
though tardy vindication. 

No man, I think, has a higher or more just apprecia- 
tion than myself of our Confederate leaders; but the 
brilliant victories won by our arms will be found, in 
their last analyses, to be in a large measure due to the 
strong individuality, the deep-seated convictions, the 
moral stamina, the martial instinct, and the personal 
prowess of our private soldiers ; and in no divisions of 
Lee's army were these characteristics more completely 
developed than in those which fought at Cedar Creek. 



Frequent skirmishes follow Cedar Creek— Neither commander anxious 
for a general engagement— Desolation in the Valley— A fated family 
— Transferred to Petersburg — A gloomy Christmas — All troops on 
reduced rations — Summoned to Lee's headquarters— Consideration 
of the dire straits of the army— Three possible courses. 

THE Cedar Creek catastrophe did not wholly dispirit 
Early's army nor greatly increase the aggressive 
energy of Sheridan's. It was the last of the great con- 
flicts in the historic Valley which for four years had been 
torn and blood-stained by almost incessant battle. Fol- 
lowing on Cedar Creek were frequent skirmishes, some 
sharp tilts with Sheridan's cavalry, a number of captures 
and losses of guns and wagons by both sides, and an 
amount of marching — often twenty to twenty-five miles 
a day— that sorely taxed the bruised and poorly shod 
feet of the still cheerful Confederates. On November 16th 
Captain Hotchkiss made this memorandum in his Jour- 
nal : " Sent a document to Colonel Boteler showing that 
to this date we had marched, since the opening of the 
campaign, sixteen hundred and seventy miles, and had 
seventy-five battles and skirmishes." All of the en- 
counters which followed Cedar Creek, however, would 
not have equalled in casualties a second-rate battle ; but 
they served to emphasize the fact that neither com- 
mander was disposed to bring the other to a general 



engagement. Evidently the grievous castigation which 
each received at Cedar Creek had left him in the sad 
plight of the Irishman who, recovering from an attack 
of grip, declared that it was the worst disease he ever 
had, for it kept him sick four months after he got well. 
During this period of Union and Confederate con- 
valescence I was transferred, by General Lee's orders, to 
the lines of defence around the beleagured Confederate 
capital and its sympathizing sister city, Petersburg. 
My command, the Second Corps, consisted of the divi- 
sions of Evans, Grimes, and Pegram. Before dawn on 
December 8th the long trains were bearing two divisions 
of my command up the western slope of the Blue Ridge 
range which separated that hitherto enchanting Valley 
from the undulating Piedmont region, which Thomas 
Jefferson thought was some day to become the most 
populous portion of our country because so richly en- 
dowed by nature. As I stood on the back platform of 
the last car in the train and looked back upon that 
stricken Valley, I could but contrast the aspect of devas- 
tation and woe which it then presented, with the bounty 
and peace in all its homes at the beginning of the war. 
Prior to 1862 it was, if possible, more beautiful and pros- 
perous than the famed blue-grass region of Kentucky. 
Before the blasting breath of war swept over its rich 
meadows and fields of clover, they had been filled with 
high-mettled horses, herds of fine cattle, and flocks of 
sheep that rivalled England's best. These were all gone. 
The great water-wheels which four years before had 
driven the busy machinery of the mills were motionless — 
standing and rotting, the silent vouchers of wholesale 
destruction. Heaps of ashes, of half-melted iron axles 
and bent tires, were the melancholy remains of burnt 
barns and farm-wagons and implements of husbandry. 
Stone and brick chimneys, standing alone in the midst 
of charred trees which once shaded the porches of lux- 


urious and happy homes, told of hostile torches which 
had left these 'grim sentinels the only guards of those 
sacred spots. At the close of this campaign of General 
Sheridan there was in that entire fertile valley— the 
former American Arcadia — scarcely a family that was 
not struggling for subsistence. 

Among the excellent soldiers who participated in all 
that Valley campaign was a Virginian, who is now 
Dr. Charles H. Harris of Cedartown, Georgia. Dr. 
Harris's high character as a man and his familiarity with 
the facts justify me in giving his written account of the 
marvellous fatality which attended the representatives of 
a Virginia family which contributed perhaps a larger 
number of soldiers to the Confederate army than any 
other in the Southern States. Two companies of the Six- 
tieth Virginia Regiment were enlisted in and around 
Christiansburg, which seems to have received its name 
from the family which contributed eighteen of its mem- 
bers — brothers and cousins — to those two Confederate 
companies. These eighteen kinsmen had inherited their 
love of liberty from Revolutionary ancestors, and had 
imbibed from the history and traditions of the Old 
Dominion those lofty ideals of manhood of which her 
great people are so justly proud. When, therefore, 
Virginia passed the solemn ordinance of secession and 
cast her lot with that of her sister States, these high- 
spirited young men enlisted in the Confederate army. 
I recall nothing in history or even in romance which 
equals in uniqueness and pathos the fate that befell 
them. The decrees of that fate were uniform and inex- 
orable. One by one, these kinsmen fell in succeeding 
engagements. In every fight in which the regiment 
was engaged one of this brave family was numbered 
among the dead. As battle succeeded battle, and each, 
with appalling regularity, claimed its victim, there ran 
through company and regiment the unvarying question, 


"Which one of the Christians was killed to-day, and 
which one will go next?" Yet among the survivors 
there was no wavering, no effort to escape the doom 
which seemed surely awaiting each in his turn. With 
a consecration truly sublime, each took his place in 
line, ready for the sacrifice which duty demanded. 
For seventeen successive engagements the gruesome 
record of death had not varied. Then came Cedar 
Creek. Only one of the gallant eighteen was left. His 
record for courage was unsurpassed. A number of 
times he had been wounded, and in the deadly hand-to- 
hand struggle at Cold Harbor he had been pierced by a 
bayonet. Faithful to every duty, he had never missed 
a fight. When the orders were issued for the night 
march and the assault at dawn upon Sheridan's army, a 
deep fraternal concern for this last survivor of the 
Christians was manifested by all of his comrades. He 
was privately importuned to stay out of the fight ; or, 
if unwilling to remain in camp while his comrades 
fought, he was urged to go home. Whether he yielded 
to these warnings and entreaties will probably never be 
known. He was seen by his comrades no more after that 
night march to Cedar Creek. Many believe that he was 
loyal " even unto death," and that he lies with the heroic 
and " unknown dead " who fell upon that eventful field. 

On reaching Petersburg it fell to my lot to hold the 
extreme right of Lee's infantry. In front of this exposed 
wing was a dense second growth of pines in which the 
daring scouts of both armies often passed each other at 
night and found hiding-places during their adventures. 
This forest also served to conceal the movements of 
troops and made artillery practically useless. 

Behind my position was the South Side Railroad — 
the last of the long commercial arteries that had not 
been cut. General Grant saw that to cut it was to 
starve Lee's army, and this meant the death of the 


Confederacy. His constant aim, therefore, was to seize 
and sever it. My instructions were to prevent this at 
any cost. The winter rains and snows and boggy roads 
were my helpers, and no great battles ensued. There 
were, however, occasional demonstrations of Grant's 
purpose, and he managed to keep us alert night and 
day. It was a very lame railroad, even when left with- 
out Federal interference. The iron rails were nearly 
worn out, and there were no new ones to replace them. 
If the old and badly maimed locomotives broke down, 
there were few or no facilities for repairing them. So 
that if the supplies had been in the far South this crip- 
pled road could not have brought them to us ; but, like 
the woman who said that she had " but one tooth above 
and one below, but, thank God, they hit," we felici- 
tated ourselves that the shackling engines did fit the old 
track and could help us somewhat. The commissary 
informed me, soon after my troops were in their new 
position, that it was impossible for the Government to 
supply us with more than half-rations, and that even 
these were by no means certain. My different com- 
mands, therefore, were at once instructed to send wagons 
into the back country and remote settlements and pur- 
chase everything obtainable that would sustain life. 

" But suppose the teams and wagons are attacked and 
captured by raiding-parties ? " 

"That chance must not deter you. Men are worth 
more than mules and wagons, and we shall have no men 
unless we can feed them," I replied. 

This haphazard method of feeding the corps proved 
to be the best then available ; and later I had the satis- 
faction of receiving General Lee's congratulations. 

In one of General Grant's efforts to break through my 
lines, General John Pegram, one of my most accom- 
plished commanders, fell, his blood reddening the white 
snow that carpeted the field. He had just married Miss 


Carey of Baltimore, one of the South's most beautiful and 
accomplished women. Thus, within a few months, rav- 
enous war had claimed as victims two distinguished offi- 
cers of my command, almost immediately after their 
marriages. One of these was Pegram of Virginia; the 
other was Lamar of Georgia. 

Christmas (December 25, 1864) came while we were 
fighting famine within and Grant without our lines. To 
meet either was a serious problem. The Southern people 
from their earliest history had observed Christmas as the 
great holiday season of the year. It was the time of 
times, the longed-for period of universal and innocent but 
almost boundless jollification among young and old. In 
towns and on the plantations, purse-strings were loosened 
and restraints relaxed — so relaxed that even the fun-lov- 
ing negro slaves were permitted to take some liberties 
with their masters, to perpetrate practical jokes upon 
them, and before daylight to storm "de white folks" 
houses with their merry calls : " Christmas gift, master ! " 
" Christmas gift, everybody ! " The holiday, however, on 
Hatcher's Run, near Petersburg, was joyless enough for 
the most misanthropic. The one worn-out railroad run- 
ning to the far South could not bring to us half enough 
necessary supplies ; and even if it could have transported 
Christmas boxes of good things, the people at home were 
too depleted to send them. They had already impover- 
ished themselves to help their struggling Government, 
and large areas of our territory had been made desolate 
by the ravages of marching armies. The brave fellows 
at the front, however, knew that their friends at home 
would gladly send them the last pound of sugar in the 
pantry, and the last turkey or chicken from the barn- 
yard. So they facetiously wished each other "Merry 
Christmas ! " as they dined on their wretched fare. There 
was no complaining, no repining, for they knew their 
exhausted country was doing all it could for them. 


At my headquarters on that Christmas day there was 
unusual merrymaking. Mrs. Gordon, on leaving home 
four years before, had placed in her little army-trunk a 
small package of excellent coffee, and had used it only on 
very special occasions— "to celebrate," as she said, "our 
victories in the first years, and to sustain us in defeat at 
the last." When I asked her, on the morning of Decem- 
ber 25, 1864, what we could do for a Christmas celebra- 
tion, she replied, "I can give you some of that coffee 
which I brought from home." She could scarcely have 
made an announcement more grateful to a hungry Con- 
federate. Coffee — genuine coffee ! The aroma of it 
filled my official family with epicurean enthusiasm be- 
fore a cup was passed from the boiling pot. If every 
man of us was not intoxicated by that indulgence after 
long and enforced abstinence, the hilarity of the party 
was misleading. 

The left of my line rested on the west bank of Hatch- 
er's Run. A. P. Hill's corps was on the east side, with 
its right flank upon the same stream. The commanding 
general directed that I build a fort at the left of my line, 
and that A. P. Hill construct a similar one near it on the 
opposite side of the run. General Hill became ill after 
the order was received, and the construction of his fort 
was not pressed. Indeed, the weather was so severe and 
the roads so nearly impassable that there was no urgent 
necessity for haste. General Lee, however, who habit- 
ually interested himself in the smaller as well as the 
larger matters connected with his army, did not forget 
these forts. Riding up to my headquarters on a cold 
morning in January, 1865, he requested me to ride with 
him to see the forts. As I mounted he said: "We will 

go by General 's quarters and ask him to accompany 

us, and we will examine both forts." When this officer 
joined us (he was temporarily in command of Hill's corps 
during the latter's absence on sick-leave), General Lee at 


once asked : " General Gordon, how are you getting along 
with your fort?" 

"Very well, sir. It is nearly finished." 

Turning to the other officer, he asked: "Well, General 
, how is the work upon your fort progressing?" 

This officer, who had felt no special responsibility for 
the fort, as he was only temporarily in charge, was con- 
siderably embarrassed by the general's pointed inquiry. 
He really had little or no knowledge of the amount of 
work done upon it, but ventured, after some hesitation, 
the reply: "I think the fort on my side of the run is 
also about finished, sir." 

Passing by my work after a short halt, we rode to the 
point at which the A. P. Hill fort was to be located. No 
fort was there ; the work was scarcely begun. General 
Lee reined up his horse, and looking first at the place 
where the fort was to be, and then at the officer, he said : 
"General, you say the fort is about finished?" 

"I must have misunderstood my engineers, sir." 

"But you did not speak of your engineers. You spoke 
of the fort as nearly completed." 

This officer was riding a superb animal which General 
Lee knew had been presented to his wife. His extreme 
embarrassment made him unusually nervous, and his 
agitation was imparted to the high-mettled animal, 
which became restless and was not easily controlled. 
General Lee in the blandest manner asked : " General,, 
does n't Mrs. ride that horse occasionally?" 

"Yes, sir," he replied. 

"Well, general, you know that I am very much in- 
terested in Mrs. 's safety. I fear that horse is too 

nervous for her to ride without danger, and I suggest 
that, in order to make him more quiet, you ride him at 
least once every day to this fort." 

This was his only reprimand; but no amount of se- 
verity on the part of the commander-in-chief could have 


been more trying to the sensibilities of the officer, who 
was an admirable soldier, commanding General Lee's 
entire confidence. The officer's mortification was so 
overwhelming that, on our return, he rode considerably 
in the rear. General Lee observed this, and could not 
resist the impulse to mitigate, as far as possible, the pang 
caused by the rebuke that he had felt compelled to admin- 
ister. Halting his horse for a moment and looking back 
at the officer in the rear, he called to him: "Ride up 
and join us, general. I want to ask you and General 
Gordon how long this war is to last." As we rode three 
abreast, he continued : "I am led to ask this question 
because it has been propounded to me. I received a 
letter this morning from my brother, Captain Lee of the 
Confederate navy" — and he stressed with peculiar em- 
phasis the words " Confederate navy." We had no navy 
except our marvellously destructive ironclads and some 
wild rovers of the sea. He continued : " You know these 
sailors are great people for signs, and my brother says 
that the signs are conflicting : that the girls are all get- 
ting married, and that is a sure sign of war ; but nearly 
all of the babies are girls, and that is a sign of peace. I 
want you gentlemen to tell me what reply I shall make 
to Captain Lee of the Confederate navy." I do not recall 
our answer ; but the fort was speedily built. 

The condition of our army was daily becoming more 
desperate. Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its 
deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the blood 
of many of Lee's men from insufficient and unsound food 
that a slight wound which would probably not have 
been reported at the beginning of the war would often 
cause blood-poison, gangrene, and death. Yet the spirits 
of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition 
grew more desperate. The grim humor of the camp was 
waging incessant warfare against despondency. They 
would not permit one another to be disheartened at any 


trial, or to complain at the burden or the chafing of any 
yoke which duty imposed. It was a harrowing but not 
uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather the 
wasted corn from -under the feet of half -fed horses, and 
wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure 
their craving for food. It was marvellous that their 
spirits were not crushed, and still more marvellous that 
they would extract fun from every phase of destitution. 
If one was made sick at night by his supper of parched 
corn, his salutation the next morning would be : " Hello, 
general; I am all right this morning. I ate a lot of 
corn last night, and if you will have the commissary 
issue me a good mess of hay for my breakfast, I '11 be 
ready for the next fight." 

Another would advise his hungry companion to spend 
his month's pay of Confederate money for a bottle of 
strong astringent and draw in his stomach to the size 
of his ration. 

It was during this doleful period that the suggestion 
to give freedom to Southern slaves and arm them for 
Southern defence became the pressing, vital problem at 
Richmond. It had been seriously considered for a long 
period by the civil authorities, and the opinions of 
certain officers in the field were at this time formally 
solicited. General Lee strongly favored it, and so did 
many members of Congress; but the bill as finally 
passed was absurdly deficient in the most important 
provisions. It did not make plain the fact that the 
slave's enlistment would at once secure his freedom. 
Public sentiment was widely divided as to the policy of 
such a step. In its favor was the stern fact, universally 
recognized, that it was no longer possible to fill our 
ranks except by converting slaves into soldiers; while 
the great Government at Washington could enlist men 
not only from the populous States of the Union, but 
from the teeming populations of foreign countries. 


Again, it was argued in favor of the proposition that 
the loyalty and proven devotion of the Southern negroes 
to their owners would make them serviceable and reli- 
able as fighters, while their inherited habits of obedience 
would make it easy to drill and discipline them. The 
fidelity of the race during the past years of the war, 
their refusal to strike for their freedom in any organized 
movement that would involve the peace and safety of 
the communities where they largely outnumbered the 
whites, and the innumerable instances of individual 
devotion to masters and their families, which have 
never been equalled in any servile race, were all con- 
sidered as arguments for the enlistment of slaves as 
Confederate soldiers. Indeed, many of them who were 
with the army as body-servants repeatedly risked their 
lives in following their young masters and bringing 
them off the battle-field when wounded or dead. These 
faithful servants at that time boasted of being Confed- 
erates, and many of them meet now with the veterans 
in their reunions, and, pointing to their Confederate 
badges, relate with great satisfaction and pride their 
experiences and services during the war. One of them, 
who attends nearly all the reunions, can, after a lapse of 
nearly forty years, repeat from memory the roll-call of 
the company to which his master belonged. General 
Lee used to tell with decided relish of the old negro (a 
cook of one of his officers) who called to see him at his 
headquarters. He was shown into the general's pres- 
ence, and, pulling off his hat, he said, " General Lee, I 
been wanting to see you a long time. I 'm a soldier." 

"Ah? To what army do you belong — to the Union 
army or to the Southern army f " 

" Oh, general, I belong to your army." 

" Well, have you been shot % " 

" No, sir ; I ain't been shot yet." 

" How is that ? Nearly all of our men get shot." 


" Why, general, I ain't been shot 'cause I stays back 
whar de generals stay." 

Against the enlistment of negroes were urged the facts 
that they were needed— were absolutely essential — on 
the plantations to produce supplies for the armies and 
the people ; that even with their labor the country was 
exhausted, and without it neither the armies nor the 
people at home could survive; that the sentiment of 
the army itself was not prepared for it, and that our 
condition was too critical for radical experiments. 

The meeting of the Southern commissioners — Mr. 
Stephens, Mr. Hunter, and Judge Campbell, with Mr. 
Lincoln, at Hampton Roads— had brought the warring 
sections no nearer to peace. All things seemed now 
prophetic of the Confederacy's certain and speedy death. 
And yet I must record in this connection a truth of 
which I had constant evidence — that our great com- 
mander, in the midst of all these depressing and over- 
whelming trials, never lost for an hour his faith in the 
devotion and unconquerable spirit of his army. And 
grandly did that army vindicate the justice of his confi- 
dence. Although the thought of speedy surrender or 
ultimate failure must have occurred to officers and men, 
it did not find expression even in the most confidential 
interviews. At least, not the remotest suggestion of 
such possibility reached my ears from any source. An 
intense loyalty to the cause seemed to imbue every man 
with the conviction that nothing should be done or said 
which could discourage his comrades or in any degree 
impair their wonderful enthusiasm. The orders were 
necessarily stringent as to granting furloughs, but de- 
sertions were astonishingly rare, although there were no 
restrictions upon correspondence, and the mails were 
loaded with letters telling the soldiers of the sufferings 
of those at home whom they loved and who needed then- 
support and care. No one, however gifted with the 


power of vigorous statement, could do justice to the 
manhood displayed under such conditions. The com- 
mander appreciated this exhibition of patience and 
endurance, and never lost an opportunity to let his men 
know it. 

In addition to the inspiration of devotion to him, 
every man of them was supported by that extraordinary 
consecration resulting from the conviction that he 
was fighting in defence of home and the rights of his 
State. Hence their unfaltering faith in the justice of 
the cause, their fortitude in extremest privations, their 
readiness to stand shoeless and shivering in the trenches 
at night, and to face any danger at their leader's call, 
while their astounding cheerfulness and never-failing 
humor were gilding with an ineffable radiance the dark- 
ness gathering around them in these last days. 

The months of December, January, and February had 
passed, and only March was to intervene before the last 
desperate struggle of the two armies would be inaugu- 
rated. Intelligent scouts kept us advised of the im- 
mense preparations progressing in the Union lines for 
assaults upon our breastworks at an early date. 

During the first week in March, 1865, General Lee 
sent a messenger, about two o'clock in the morning, to 
summon me to his headquarters. It was one of the bit- 
terest nights of that trying winter, and it required a ride 
of several miles to reach the house on the outskirts of 
Petersburg where the commanding-general made his 
headquarters. As I entered, General Lee, who was 
entirely alone, was standing at the fireplace, his arm on 
the mantel and his head resting on his arm as he gazed 
into the coal fire burning in the grate. He had evidently 
been up all the previous part of the night. For the first 
time in all my intercourse with him, I saw a look of 
painful depression on his face. Of course he had expe- 


rienced many hours of depression, but he had concealed 
from those around him all evidence of discouragement. 
He had carried the burden in his own soul— wrapping 
his doubts and apprehensions in an exterior of cheerful- 
ness and apparent confidence. The hour had come, 
however, when he could no longer carry alone the 
burden, or entirely conceal his forebodings of impend- 
ing disaster. General Longstreet and General Ewell 
were both twenty miles away on their lines in front of 
Richmond; A. P. Hill, who for weeks had been in deli- 
cate health, was absent on furlough ; and I found myself 
alone with the evidently depressed commander. To 
me he had the appearance of one suffering from physi- 
cal illness. In answer to my inquiry as to his health, 
he stated that he was well enough bodily, and had sent 
for me in order to counsel with me as to our prospects, 
etc. In his room was a long table covered with recent 
reports from every portion of his army. Some of these 
reports had just reached him. He motioned me to a 
chair on one side of the table, and seated himself oppo- 
site me. I had known before I came that our army was 
in desperate straits; but when I entered that room I 
realized at once, from the gravity of the commander's 
bearing, that I was to learn of a situation worse than I 
had anticipated. The interview was a long one, in- 
tensely absorbing, and in many respects harrowing. It 
led, as will be seen, to the last desperate assault upon 
Grant's lines at Petersburg which was made by my 
troops. The interview also produced in me a keen 
sense of responsibility ; for I was then less than thirty- 
three years of age, much the youngest corps-commander 
in Lee's army, and I expected to be called upon to express 
opinions upon matters involving the fate of the army 
and of the Southern people. 

I shall not attempt to quote General Lee literally, ex- 
cept where his words were so engraved on my mind that 


I cannot forget them while I remember anything. He 
opened the conference by directing me to read the re- 
ports from the different commands as he shonld hand 
them to me, and to carefully note every important fact 
contained in them. 

The revelation was startling. Each report was bad' 
enough, and all the distressing facts combined were 
sufficient, it seemed to me, to destroy all cohesive power 
and lead to the inevitable disintegration of any other 
army that was ever marshalled. Of the great disparity 
of numbers between the two hostile forces I was already 
apprised. I had also learned much of the general suffer- 
ing among the troops; but the condition of my own 
command, due to the special efforts of which I have 
spoken, was not a fair measure of the suffering in the 
army. I was not prepared for the picture presented by 
these reports of extreme destitution— of the lack of 
shoes, of hats, of overcoats, and of blankets, as well as of 
food. Some of the officers had gone outside the formal 
official statement as to numbers of the sick, to tell in 
plain, terse, and forceful words of depleted strength, 
emaciation, and decreased power of endurance among 
those who appeared on the rolls as fit for duty. Cases 
were given, and not a few, where good men, faithful, 
tried, and devoted, gave evidence of temporary insanity 
and indifference to orders or to the consequences of dis- 
obedience — the natural and inevitable effect of their men- 
tal and bodily sufferings. My recollection is that Gen- 
eral Lee stated that, since the reports from A. P. Hill's 
corps had been sent in, he had learned that those men 
had just been rationed on one sixth of a pound of beef, 
whereas the army ration was a pound of beef per man 
per day, with the addition of other supplies ; that is to 
say, 600 of A. P. Hill's men were compelled to subsist on 
less food than was issued to 100 men in General Grant's 


When I had finished the inspection of this array of 
serious facts, and contemplated the bewildering woe 
which they presented, General Lee began his own anal- 
ysis of the situation. He first considered the relative 
strength of his army and that of General Grant. The 
exact number of his own men was given in the reports 
before him— about 50,000, or 35,000 fit for duty. Against 
them he estimated that General Grant had in front of 
Richmond and Petersburg, or within his reach, about 
150,000. Coming up from Knoxville was Thomas with 
an estimated force of 30,000 superb troops, to whose prog- 
ress General Lee said we could offer practically no resist- 
ance—only a very small force of poorly equipped cavalry 
and detached bodies of infantry being available for that 

"From the Valley," he said, "General Grant can and 
will bring upon us nearly 20,000, against whom I can 
oppose scarcely a vedette." This made an army of 200,000 
well-fed, well-equipped men which General Grant could 
soon concentrate upon our force of 50,000, whose effi- 
ciency was greatly impaired by suffering. Sherman was 
approaching from North Carolina, and his force, when 
united with Schofield's, would reach 80,000. What force 
had we to confront that army? General Beauregard 
had telegraphed a few days before that, with the aid of 
Governor Vance's Home Guards, he could muster prob- 
ably 20,000 to 25,000. But General Joseph E. Johnston 
had just sent a despatch saying in substance that Gen- 
eral Beauregard had overestimated his strength, and that 
it would be nearer the truth to place the available Con- 
federate force at from 13,000 to 15,000. So that the final 
summing up gave Grant the available crushing power of 
280,000 men, while to resist this overwhelming force Lee 
had in round numbers only 65,000. 

This estimate ended, the commander rose, and with 
one hand resting upon the depressing reports, he stood 


contemplating them for a moment, and then gravely 
walked to and fro across the room, leaving me to my 
thoughts. My emotions were stirred to their depths; 
and as I now recall him standing at the table at four 
o'clock on that March morning, silently contemplating 
those reports, — the irrefutable demonstration of his ina- 
bility to satisfy the longings of the Southern people for 
independence,— it seems to me that no commander could 
ever have felt a greater burden than did Robert E. Lee 
at that hour. 

My sense of responsibility reached its climax when he 
again took his seat facing me at the table, and asked me 
to state frankly what I thought under those conditions 
it was best to do — or what duty to the army aud our 
people required of us. Looking at me intently, he 
awaited my answer. I had opinions, and by this time 
they were fixed ; but I hesitated to express them, not 
only because of the tremendous importance of the ques- 
tion he had propounded, but because I was uncertain of 
General Lee's views, and it is never agreeable to a junior 
officer to maintain opinions in conflict with those of the 
commander-in-chief, especially a commander whom he 
regards, as I did Lee, as almost infallible in such a 
crisis. But I replied : 

"General, it seems to me there are but three courses, 
and I name them in the order in which I think they 
should be tried : 

" First, make terms with the enemy, the best we can get. 

" Second, if that is not practicable, the best thing to do 
is to retreat — abandon Richmond and Petersburg, unite 
by rapid marches with General Johnston in North Caro- 
lina, and strike Sherman before Grant can join him ; or, 

" Lastly, we must fight, and without delay." 

Then again there was a period of silence, lasting, it is 
true, but a few moments ; but they were moments of 
extreme anxiety to me. The question which he then 


asked only intensified my anxiety. "Is that your 
opinion ? " 

It may have been due to the tension of my nerves, 
but I thought there was a slight coloring of satire in his 
words and manner; and this wounded and nettled me. 
I mildly resented it by reminding him that I was there 
at his bidding, that I had answered his question thought- 
fully and frankly, that no man was more concerned than 
I for the safety of the army and the welfare of our people, 
and that I felt, under the circumstances, that I also had 
the right to ask Ms opinion. I then discovered that 
General Lee's manner was a method of testing the 
strength of my convictions ; for he replied in the kindest 
and most reassuring manner : 

"Certainly, general, you have the right to ask my 
opinion. I agree with you fully." 

I then asked him if he had made his views known to 
President Davis or to the Congress. He replied that he 
had not; that he scarcely felt authorized to suggest 
to the civil authorities the advisability of making terms 
with the Government of the United States. He said that 
he was a soldier, that it was his province to obey the 
orders of the Government, and to advise or counsel with 
the civil authorities only upon questions directly affect- 
ing his army and its defence of the capital and the 

These remarks applied to the first course that had 
been suggested. He then came to the second, namely, 
the retreat and the uniting of his forces with those of 
Johnston in North Carolina. He said that while he felt 
sure that this was the next best thing to do, it would be 
attended with the gravest difficulties ; that, in the first 
place, he doubted whether the authorities in Richmond 
would consent to the movement, and, in the next place, 
it would probably be still more difficult to get General 
Grant's consent; but that if both President Davis and 


General Grant should notify him that he could go, there 
would still be in his way the deplorable plight of his 
army. He dwelt at length upon it. Among other things, 
he mentioned the fact that, in addition to the starving- 
condition of his men, his horses were dying from star- 
vation, and that he could not move one half of his artil- 
lery and ammunition and supply trains. He added that 
the cavalry horses were in horrid condition, and that he 
could not supply their places, as the country was ex- 
hausted ; that when a cavalry horse died or was shot, it 
was equivalent to the loss of both horse and rider, so far 
as that arm of the service was concerned; whereas 
General Grant could mount ten thousand additional 
horsemen in a few days if he wished to do so, and could 
retard our retreat, vex our flanks, and cut off our sup- 

General Lee, like his private soldiers, had a vein of 
humor in him which was rarely exhibited except when it 
served some good purpose. It often appeared when least 
expected, but was always most opportune. While speak- 
ing of the vast superiority of Grant's numbers and 
resources and his own rapidly accumulating embarrass- 
ments, he relaxed the tension for a moment by saying : 

" By the way, I received a verbal message from Gen- 
eral Grant to-day." 

" What was it?" I asked. 

He explained that General Grant had sent, under flag 
of truce, a request to cease firing long enough for him 
to bury his dead between the picket-lines. The officer 
who bore the flag of truce asked to be conducted to 
army headquarters, as he had a message to deliver to 
General Lee in person. Arriving at headquarters, he 
received General Lee's courteous salutations, and, hav- 
ing explained the nature of his mission, said : " General, 
as I left General Grant's tent this morning he gave me 
these instructions : ' Give General Lee my personal 


compliments, and say to him that I keep in snch close 
touch with him that I know what he eats for breakfast 
every morning.'" I asked General Lee what reply he 
made. He said: -"I told the officer to tell General 
Grant that I thought there must be some mistake about 
the latter part of his message; for unless he [General 
Grant] had fallen from grace since I saw him last, he 
would not permit me to eat such breakfasts as mine 
without dividing his with me." He then added : " I 
also requested the officer to present my compliments to 
General Grant, and say to him that I knew perhaps as 
much about his dinners as he knew about my break- 

This, of course, meant that each of the commanders, 
through scouts and spies, and through such statements 
as they could extract from prisoners or deserters, kept 
fairly well posted as to what was transpiring in the 
opponent's camp. 

This little diversion ended, the commander returned 
to the discussion of the three courses which the serious 
situation presented. Without an explicit expression to 
that effect, the entire trend of his words led me to the 
conclusion that he thought immediate steps should be 
taken to secure peace, and I ventured to suggest that it 
was not only legitimate for him to see President Davis 
on the subject, but that the Southern people had placed 
their hopes largely in their commanding general. With 
characteristic modesty, he thought that the people ex- 
pected of him only the best services he could give them 
at the head of the army. As nearly as I can recall my 
words, I said to him at this point : " General, if the 
newspapers correctly represent the thought and senti- 
ment of the people, there can be no doubt that they are 
looking to you for deliverance more than to President 
Davis or the Congress, or both combined ; and it seems 
to me that your responsibility is such as to entitle you 


to the aid of the civil authorities in finding the shortest 
way, consistent with honor, out of our troubles." I 
urged, with as much earnestness as my position would 
permit, the probability of securing more favorable terms 
while our army was still organized and resisting than 
would be accorded us after that army was scattered or 
captured. His long training as a soldier and his extreme 
delicacy were still in his way — a barrier against even 
apparent interference in any department not his own 
and against any step not in accord with the strictest 
military and official ethics. He said as much, but then 
added : " I will go, and will send for you again on my 
return from Richmond." 

It was near sunrise when I left him and rode back to 
my quarters. Although he had not slept during the 
night, he took the first train to Richmond, and spent two 
days, I believe, in conferences over the tremendous 
issue. Promptly on his return he again summoned me. 
He proceeded at once to state, concisely and clearly, the 
result of his interviews. He said nothing could be done 
at Richmond. The Congress did not seem to appreciate 
the situation. Of President Davis he spoke in terms of 
strong eulogy : of the strength of his convictions, of his 
devotedness, of his remarkable faith in the possibility 
of still winning our independence, and of his unconquer- 
able will power. The nearest approach to complaint or 
criticism were the words which I can never forget: 
" You know that the President is very pertinacious in 
opinion and purpose." President Davis did not believe 
we could secure such terms as we could afford to accept, 
and was indisposed to make further effort after the 
failure of the Hampton Roads conference. Neither were 
the authorities ready to evacuate the capital and aban- 
don our lines of defence, although every railroad except 
the South Side was already broken. 

Paganini, the unrivalled violinist of Genoa, in one of 


his great exhibitions is said to have had the strings of 
his violin break, one after another, until he had but one 
left. Undismayed by these serious mishaps, and point- 
ing to his dismantled instrument, he proudly exclaimed 
to the audience that he still had left, "One string and 
Paganini!" Jefferson Davis, holding to the Confederate 
capital, notwithstanding every line of railroad except 
one had been broken by the enemy, was yet confident, 
and felt in his heart that he still had enough left in the 
" one string and Lee's army." 

Having heard the commander's report of his inter- 
views in Eichmond, I asked : 

" What, then, is to be done, general ! " 

He replied that there seemed to be but one thing that 
we could do — fight. To • stand still was death. It 
could only be death if we fought and failed. 

This was the prelude to my assault upon Fort Sted- 
man on March 25, 1865 — the last Confederate attack on 
Grant's lines at Petersburg. 



In the trenches at Petersburg— General Lee's instructions— A daring 
plan formed — Preparations for a night assault— An ingenious war 
ruse — The fort captured with small loss — Failure of reinforcements 
to arrive— Loss of guides— Necessary withdrawal from the fort — The 
last effort to break Grant's hold. 

LIKE fires that consume the dross and make pure the 
metal, Confederate distress and extremity seemed to 
strengthen and ennoble rather than weaken Confederate 
manhood. My hungry and debilitated men welcomed with 
a readiness intensely pathetic the order to break camp and 
move into the trenches at Petersburg. Their buoyancy of 
spirit was in no degree due to a lack of appreciation of 
the meaning of that night march. They were not mere 
machine soldiers, moved by a superior intelligence to 
which they blindly yielded obedience. They were thought- 
ful men, with naturally keen perceptions sharpened by 
long experience in actual war. They well knew that the 
order meant more suffering, more fighting, more slaugh- 
ter ; yet, if their conduct and assurances are trustworthy 
witnesses, these men were prepared for any additional 
sacrifices. There was no shouting or yelling; but si- 
lently, quickly, and cheerfully they folded their little 
sheet tents, packed their frying-pans and tin cups, and 
were promptly in line, with their knapsacks on their 
backs, their lean and empty haversacks on one side and 



full cartridge-boxes on the other, ready for the rapid 
night march to Petersburg, where every bloody ditch 
and frowning fort was to them a herald of another deadly 

As I now look back to that scene of busy preparation 
by the dim light of the camp-fires, and recall the fact 
that not only the officers but the intelligent privates in 
the ranks knew that this hasty preparation was the pre- 
lude to perhaps the last desperate effort of Lee's little 
army to break Grant's grip on the Confederate capital, 
the question presses itself upon me: How can we ac- 
count for such self-command and steadfast fidelity in 
the presence of apparently inevitable and overwhelming 
disaster ? An English nobleman, while placing his head 
upon the block, is said to have indulged in jest at the 
executioner's axe ; but there was no such vainglory in 
the wonderful serenity of these thoughtful men. To one 
who has experienced it, there is no difficulty in under- 
standing what the Romans called the glory of battle; 
but that stimulant was entirely wanting in this case. It 
is easy enough to explain the mental intoxication of the 
young Earl of Essex, who, as he sailed in to a naval fight, 
threw his hat into the sea in a transport of martial 
ecstasy. This boundless joy of Essex was the presenti- 
ment of a coming triumph, and is no more mysterious 
than the instinct of the eagle bending to catch the roar 
of the rising tempest, conscious that its wildest blasts 
will bear him to higher and prouder flights. It is easy 
enough to comprehend the enthusiasm of these same 
Confederates during the long period when recurring bat- 
tles meant recurring victories. Now, however, in the 
last days of the Confederacy, and especially during the 
dreary winter of 1864-65, these conditions were all 
changed. Practically every available man in the South 
was already at the front, and the inability to secure an 
exchange of prisoners made it impossible to fill the thin- 


ning ranks of our armies. The supplies were exhausted, 
and it was impracticable to give the men sufficient food. 
Everything was exhausted except devotion and valor. 
The very air we breathed was changed. There was no 
longer in it the exhilaration of victory with which it had 
been so constantly surcharged in past years. Yet in the 
light of their camp-fires I could see in the faces of these 
men an expression of manly resolve almost equal to that 
which they had worn in the days of their brightest hopes. 
It is impossible to explain this unswerving purpose to 
fight to the last, except upon this one hypothesis. They 
felt that their struggle was a defence of State, of home, 
and of liberty; and for these they were ready to die. 
The world's most consecrated martyrs can lay no higher 
claim to immortality. 

General Lee's instructions to me were substantially as 
follows : " Move your troops into the works around the 
city as I withdraw one of the other commands from them. 
Make your headquarters in the city. Study General 
Grant's works at all points, consider carefully all plans 
and possibilities, and then tell me what you can do, if 
anything, to help us in our dilemma." 

The very narrow space between Lee's and Grant's 
lines, the vigilance of the pickets who stood within 
speaking range of each other, and the heavily loaded 
guns which commanded every foot of intrenchments, 
made the removal of one body of troops and the install- 
ing of another impracticable by daylight and quite 
hazardous even at night. We moved, however, cau- 
tiously through the city to the breastworks, and, as the 
other corps was secretly withdrawn, my command glided 
into the vacated trenches as softly and noiselessly as the 
smooth flow of a river. 

More than a month prior to this change, General Lee 
w T rote to the authorities at Richmond, after these men 
had stood in line for three days and nights in extremely 


cold weather : " Some of the men have been without 
meat for three days, and all of them are suffering from 
reduced rations and scant clothing while exposed to 
battle, cold, hail, and sleet." He also stated that the 
chief commissary reported that he had not a pound of 
meat at his disposal. General Lee added : " The physi- 
cal strength of the men, if their courage survives, must 
fail under this treatment." These were the men with 
whom I was soon to make a most daring assault, and 
these the conditions under which it must be made. 

The breastworks behind which stood the brave army 
in blue appeared to be as impenetrable by any force 
which Lee could send against them as is a modern iron- 
clad to the missiles from an ordinary field battery : but 
if there was a weak point in those defences, I was ex- 
pected to find it. If such a point could be found, I was 
expected to submit to General Lee some plan by which 
it would be feasible, or at least possible, for his depleted 
army to assail it successfully. 

Giving but few hours in the twenty-four to rest and 
sleep, I labored day and night at this exceedingly grave 
and discouraging problem, on the proper solution of 
which depended the commander's decision as to when 
and where he would deliver his last blow for the life of 
the Confederacy. My efficient staff — Majors Moore, 
Hunter, Dabney, and Pace, and Captains Markoe, Wilmer, 
and Jones— were constantly engaged gathering informa- 
tion from every possible source. The prisoners captured 
were closely questioned, and their answers noted and 
weighed. Deserters from the Federal army added valu- 
able material to the information I was acquiring. 

The fact that there were desertions from the Union to 
the Confederate army at this late period of the war is 
difficult to understand. Indeed, such desertions were 
among those mysterious occurrences which are inexplic- 
able on any ordinary hypothesis. It was to be expected 


that some of the newly enlisted Confederates, some of 
those reluctant recruits who were induced to join our 
ranks under the persuasive influence of the Confederate 
Conscript Law, should abandon us in our extremity; 
but when all the conditions pointed to certain and speedy 
Union success, where can we find impelling motives 
strong enough to induce General Grant's men to desert 
his overwhelming forces and seek shelter with the 
maimed and starving Confederate army? The bravest 
and most loyal sailors will abandon a sinking battle-ship 
and accept safety on the deck of the triumphant vessel 
of the enemy. In the case of General Grant's men, how- 
ever, this natural impulse seemed to be reversed. They 
were not leaving a disabled ship. They were deserting 
a mighty and increasing fleet for a place on the deck of 
an isolated and badly crippled man-of-war — one that 
was fighting grandly, it is true, but fighting single-handed, 
almost hopelessly, with its ammunition and supplies 
nearly exhausted, its engines disabled, and its hull heavily 

It required a week of laborious examination and in- 
tense thought to enable me to reach any definite con- 
clusion. Every rod of the Federal intrenchments, every 
fort and parapet on the opposing line of breastworks 
and on the commanding hills in rear of them, every 
sunken path of the pickets and every supporting division 
of infantry behind the works, had to be noted and care- 
fully scrutinized. The character of the obstructions in 
front of each portion of the Union works had to be crit- 
ically examined and an estimate made as to the time it 
would require to cut them away so that my men could 
mount the breastworks or rush into the fort selected for 
our attack. The distance between the opposing works 
and the number of seconds or minutes it would require 
for my troops to rush across were important factors in 
estimating the chances of success or failure, and required 


the closest calculation. The decision as to the most 
vulnerable point for attack involved two additional 
questions of vital importance. The first was: From 
what point on my own intrenchments could my assault- 
ing column rush forth on its desperate night sally, with 
the least probability of arousing the sleeping foe? 
The second was : How many intervening ditches were 
there, and of what width and depth, over which my men 
were to leap or into which they might fall in the perilous 
passage? All these points considered, I decided that 
Fort Stedman on Grant's lines was the most inviting 
point for attack and Colquitt's Salient on Lee's lines the 
proper place from which to sally. This point in our 
lines took its name from my lifelong friend, General 
Alfred Holt Colquitt of Georgia, whose memory will live 
in Southern hearts, as fresh and green as the fadeless 
verdure of the pines which now grow upon the salient's 
embankment, striking their roots deep into the earth 
which was reddened by the blood of his stalwart 
Georgians. These men stood and fought and suffered 
there, commanded by this superb officer, who won by 
his brilliant victory in Florida the proud title, " Hero of 
Olustee." General Colquitt lived long after the war 
closed, giving conservative counsel to his people, recog- 
nized as the friend of both races, and serving with dis- 
tinction as governor of his State and as United States 
senator. He died at his post of duty in Washington 
in 1893. 

The plan of the attack on Fort Stedman was fully 
developed in my own mind; and whether it was good 
or bad, the responsibility for it was upon me, not be- 
cause there was any indisposition on General Lee's part 
to make a plan of his own and order its execution, but 
because he had called me from the extreme right to his 
centre at Petersburg for this purpose. With him was 
the final decision — approval or rejection. 


As soon as he was notified that I was ready to report, 
he summoned me to his quarters. After such a lapse of 
time I cannot give General Lee's exact words in so 
prolonged a conference, but the following questions and 
answers faithfully represent the substance of the inter- 

"What can you do?" he asked. 

" I can take Fort Stedman, sir." 

" How, and from what point f " 

"By a night assault from Colquitt's Salient, and a sud- 
den, quick rush across ditches, where the enemy's pick- 
ets are on watch, running over the pickets and capturing 
them, or, if they resist, using the bayonet." 

"But the chevaux-de-frise protecting your front is, 
I believe, fastened together at Colquitt's Salient with 
chains and spikes. This obstruction will have to be 
removed before your column of attack can pass out of 
our works. Do you think you can remove these obstruc- 
tions without attracting the attention of Union pickets 
which are only a few rods away? You are aware that 
they are especially vigilant at night, and that any un- 
usual noise on your lines would cause them to give the 
alarm, arousing their men in the fort, who would quickly 
turn loose upon you their heavy guns loaded with grape 
and canister." 

" This is a serious difficulty ; but I feel confident that 
it can be overcome. I propose to intrust the delicate 
task of getting our obstructions removed to a few select 
men, who will begin the work after dark, and, with the 
least possible noise, make a passageway for my troops 
by 4 a.m., at which hour the sally is to be made." 

"But suppose you succeed in removing the obstruc- 
tions in front of your own lines without attracting the 
attention of General Grant's pickets and get your column 
under full headway and succeed in capturing or killing 
the pickets before they can give the alarm ; you will have 


a still more serious difficulty to overcome when you 
reach the strong and closely built obstructions in front 
of Fort Stedman and along the enemy's works. Have 
you ascertained how these obstructions are made and 
thought of any way to get over them or through them ! 
You know that a delay of even a few minutes would 
insure a consuming fire upon your men, who, while halt- 
ing, would be immediately in front of the heavy guns in 
the fort." 

"I recognize fully, general, the force of all you say ; but 
let me explain. Through prisoners and deserters I have 
learned during the past week all about the obstructions 
in front of General Grant's lines. They are exceedingly 
formidable. They are made of rails, with the lower ends 
deeply buried in the ground. The upper ends are 
sharpened and rest upon poles, to which they are fastened 
by strong wires. These sharp points are about breast- 
high, and my men could not possibly get over them. 
They are about six or eight inches apart ; and we could 
not get through them. They are so securely fastened to- 
gether and to the horizontal poles by the telegraph wires 
that we could not possibly shove them apart so as to 
pass them. There is but one thing to do. They must 
be chopped to pieces by heavy, quick blows with sharp 
axes. I propose to select fifty brave and especially 
robust and active men, who will be armed only with 
axes. These axemen will rush across, closely followed 
by my troops, and will slash down a passage for my men 
almost at a single blow. This stalwart force will rush 
into the fort with the head of my column, and, if 
necessary, use their axes instead of bayonets in any 
hand-to-hand conflict inside the fort. I think I can 
promise you, general, that we will go into that fort ; but 
what we are going to do when we get in is the most 
serious problem of all." 

At this point General Lee discussed and carefully 


considered every phase of the hazardous programme. He 
expressed neither approval nor disapproval ; but he 
directed me to explain fully the further details of the 
plan on the supposition that by possibility we could take 
Fort Stedman and the lines on each side of it. 

The purpose of the movement was not simply the 
capture of Fort Stedman and the breastworks flanking 
it. The prisoners and guns we might thus capture would 
not justify the peril of the undertaking. The tremendous 
possibility was the disintegration of the whole left wing 
of the Federal army, or at least the dealing of such a 
staggering blow upon it as would disable it temporarily, 
enabling us to withdraw from Petersburg in safety and 
join Johnston in North Carolina. The capture of the 
fort was only the breasting of the first wave in the 
ocean of difficulties to be encountered. It was simply 
the opening of a road through the wilderness of hostile 
works nearest to us in order that my corps and the 
additional forces to be sent me could pass toward the 
rear of Grant's lines and then turn upon his flanks. 

G-eneral Lee resumed his questions, saying in substance : 

"Well, suppose you capture the fort, what are you 
going to do with the strong line of infantry in the ravine 
behind the fort and the three other forts in the rear 
which command Fort Stedman ! Do you think you can 
carry those three forts by assault after General Grant's 
army has been aroused by your movement?" 

"Those forts, general, cannot be taken by direct 
assault when fully manned, except at great sacrifice to 
our troops. In front of them is a network of abatis 
which makes a direct advance upon them extremely 
difficult. There is, however, an open space in the rear 
of them, and if I can reach that space in the darkness 
with a sufficient number of men to overpower the guards, 
I can take those three forts also, without heavy loss. I 
suggest that we attempt their capture by a legitimate 


stratagem; if that fails, then at dawn to rush with all 
the troops available toward Grant's left, meeting emer- 
gencies as best we can. To accomplish much by such a 
movement, you would have to send me nearly or quite 
one half of your army. I greatly prefer to try the 
stratagem, the success of which depends on a number of 

He asked me to state fully each step in the programme, 
and I continued : 

" During the week of investigation I have learned the 
name of every officer of rank in my front. I propose to 
select three officers from my corps, who are to command 
each a body of 100 men. These officers are to assume 
the names of three Union officers who are in and near 
Fort Stedman. When I have carried Fort Stedman, 
each of these selected officers is to rush in the darkness 
to the rear with his 100 men, shouting : ' The Rebels 
have carried Fort Stedman and our front lines ! ' They 
are to maintain no regular order, but each body of 100 
is to keep close to its leader. As these three officers 
strike the line of infantry in rear of the fort and at dif- 
ferent points, they will be halted; but each of them 
will at once represent himself as the Union officer whose 
name he bears, and is to repeat : l The Rebels have cap- 
tured our works, and I am ordered by General McLaugh- 
lin to rush back to the fort in rear and hold it at all 

" Each body of 100 men will thus pass the supporting 
line of Union infantry and go to the rear of the fort to 
which I will direct the leader. They are to enter, over- 
power the Union guards, and take possession of the fort. 
Thus the three forts will be captured." 

General Lee asked if I thought my officers would each 
be able in the darkness to find the fort which he was 
seeking. I replied : 

" That depends, general, upon my ability to get proper 


guides. The trees have been cut down, the houses have 
been burned, and the whole topography of that portion of 
the field so changed that it will require men who are 
thoroughly familiar with the locality to act as guides. 
I have no such men in my corps ; and without proper 
guides my three detachments will be sacrificed after tak- 
ing Fort Stedman and passing the rear line of infantry." 

Again there was a long discussion of the chances and 
the serious difiiculties in this desperate adventure. These 
were fully recognized by General Lee, as they had been 
by myself when the successive steps in the undertaking 
were formulated in my own mind. He said in substance : 
" If you think, after careful consideration, that you can 
probably carry Fort Stedman, and then get your three 
companies of 100 through the line of supporting infan- 
try, I will endeavor to find among the Virginia volun- 
teers three men whose homes were on that part of the 
field where the rear forts stand, to act as guides to your 
three officers. I do not know of such men now, but will 
at once make search for them." 

He directed me to proceed with the selection of my 
men for the different parts of the programme, but not to 
notify them until he had made search for the guides and 
had thought the whole plan over. Twenty-four hours 
later occurred the final conference before the attack. 
With the exception of the last council of war on the 
night before the surrender, I believe this conference on 
the night of March 23, 1865, was the most serious and 
impressive in my experience. General Lee had thought 
of all the chances: he had found three men, whom he 
did not know in person, but who were recommended for 
the three guides ; he had selected different troops to send 
me from other corps, making, with mine, nearly one half 
of his army, and had decided that we should make one 
supreme effort to break the cordon tightening around 
us. These troops were to come from Longstreet's and 


A. P. Hill's corps. A body of cavalry was to be sent me, 
which, in case we succeeded in getting into the three 
rear forts, was to ride across the broken gap at Fort 
Stedman, and then gallop to the rear, destroy Grant's 
railroad and telegraph lines, and cut away his pontoons 
across the river, while the infantry swept down the rear 
of the Union intrenchments. 

With full recognition by both the commander and 
myself of the hopelessness of our cause if we waited 
longer on General Grant's advance, and also of the great 
hazard in moving against him, the tremendous under- 
taking was ordered. 

All night my troops were moving and concentrating 
behind Colquitt's Salient. For hours Mrs. Gordon sat in 
her room in Petersburg, tearing strips of white cloth to 
tie across the breasts of the leading detachments, that 
they might recognize each other in the darkness and in 
the hand-to-hand battle expected at the Federal breast- 
works and inside the fort. 

The fifty heavy keen-edged axes were placed in the 
hands of the fifty brave and stalwart fellows who were 
to lead the column and hew down Grant's obstructions. 
The strips of white cloth were tied upon them, and they 
were ready for the desperate plunge. 

The chosen 300, in three companies, under the three 
officers bearing names of Union officers, were also be- 
decked with the white cotton Confederate scarfs. To 
each of these companies was assigned one of the three se- 
lected guides. I explained to the 300 men the nature of 
their duties, and told them that, in addition to the joy it 
would give them to aid in giving victory to the army, I 
would see to it, if the three forts were captured, that each 
of them should have a thirty days' furlough and a silver 
medal. Although the rear forts were not captured, the 
failure was not the fault of the 300 ; and even to this 
day, nearly forty years afterward, I occasionally receive 


applications for the medal, accompanied by the state- 
ment that I need not trouble myself to get the furlough, 
as they received that some days later at Appomattox. 

The hour for the assault (4 a.m.) arrived. The column 
of attack was arranged in the following order : the 50 
axemen in front, and immediately behind and close to 
them the selected 300. Next came the different com- 
mands of infantry who were to move in compact column 
close behind the 300, the cavalry being held in reserve 
until the way for them was cleared. 

While my preparations were progressing I received 
from General Lee the following note, which is here given 
because it was written with his own hand, and because 
it expresses the earnest prayer for our success which 
came from his burdened heart, and which he could not 
suppress even in this short semi-official communication : 

4 : 30 p.m. Hd Qr (24) March '65. 
Genl : I have received yours of 2 : 30 p.m. and telegraphed for 
Pickett's Division, but I do not think it will reach here in time. 
Still we will try. If you need more troops one or both of Heth's 
brigades can be called to Colquitt's Salient and Wilcox's to the 
Baxter road. Dispose of the troops as needed. I pray that a 
merciful God may grant us success and deliver us from our 
enemies. Yours truly, 

R. E. Lee, 

Genl. J. B. Gordon, etc. 

P. S. The Cavalry is ordered to report to you at Halifax 
road and Norfolk R.R. Iron Bridge at 3 a.m. tomorrow. W. F. 
Lee to be in vicinity of Monk's corner Road at 6 a.m. 

All things ready, at 4 a.m. I stood on the top of the 
breastworks, with no one at my side except a single 
private soldier with rifle in hand, who was to fire the 
signal shot for the headlong rush. This night charge 
on the fort was to be across the intervening space 


covered with ditches, in one of which stood the watchful 
Federal pickets. There still remained near my works 
some of the debris of our obstructions, which had not 
been completely removed and which I feared might 
retard the rapid exit of my men; and I ordered it 
cleared away. The noise made by this removal, though 
slight, attracted the attention of a Union picket who 
stood on guard only a few rods from me, and he called 

" What are you doing over there, Johnny ! What is 
that noise 1 Answer quick or I '11 shoot." 

The pickets of the two* armies were so close together 
at this point that there was an understanding between 
them, either expressed or implied, that they would not 
shoot each other down except when necessary. The 
call of this Union picket filled me with apprehension. 
I expected him to fire and start the entire picket-line to 
firing, thus giving the alarm to the fort, the capture 
of which depended largely upon the secrecy of my 
movement. The quick mother-wit of the private 
soldier at my side came to my relief. In an instant 
he replied : 

" Never mind, Yank. Lie down and go to sleep. We 
are just gathering a little corn. You know rations are 
mighty short over here." 

There was a narrow strip of corn which the bullets 
had not shot away still standing between the lines. 
The Union picket promptly answered : " All right, 
Johnny ; go ahead and get your corn. I '11 not shoot at 
you while you are drawing your rations." 

Such soldierly courtesy was constantly illustrated 
between these generous foes, who stood so close to one 
another in the hostile lines. The Rev. J. William Jones, 
D.D., now chaplain-general of the United Confederate 
Veterans, when standing near this same point had his 
hat carried away by a gust of wind, and it fell near the 


Union lines. The loss of a hat meant the loss to the 
chaplain of nearly a month's pay. He turned away 
sorrowfully, not knowing how he could get another. A 
heroic young private, George Haner of Virginia, said to 
him : " Chaplain, I will get your hat." Taking a pole in 
his hand, he crawled along the ditch which led to our 
picket-line, and began to drag the hat in with his pole. 
At this moment a Yankee bullet went through the sleeve 
of his jacket. He at once shouted to the Union picket : 
" Hello, Yank ; quit your foolishness. I am doing no 
harm. I am just trying to get the chaplain's hat." 
Immediately the reply came : " All right, Johnny ; I '11 
not shoot at you any more. But you 'd better hurry up 
and get it before the next relief comes." 

My troops stood in close column, ready for the hazard- 
ous rush upon Fort Stedman. While the fraternal 
dialogue in reference to drawing rations from the corn- 
field was progressing between the Union picket and the 
resourceful private at my side, the last of the obstruc- 
tions in my front were removed, and I ordered the 
private to fire the signal for the assault. He pointed 
his rifle upward, with his finger on the trigger, but 
hesitated. His conscience seemed to get hold of him. 
He was going into the fearful charge, and he evidently 
did not feel disposed to go into eternity with the lie on 
his lips, although it might be a permissible war lie, by 
which he had thrown the Union picket off his guard. 
He evidently felt that it was hardly fair to take advan- 
tage of the generosity and soldierly sympathy of his foe, 
who had so magnanimously assured him that he would 
not be shot while drawing his rations from the little field 
of corn. His hesitation surprised me, and I again ordered : 
"Fire your gun, sir." He at once called to his kind- 
hearted foe and said : " Hello, Yank ! Wake up ; we are 
going to shell the woods. Look out; we are coming." 
And with this effort to satisfy his conscience and even 


up accounts with the Yankee picket, he fired the shot 
and rushed forward in the darkness. 

As the solitary signal shot rang out in the stillness, 
my alert pickets, who had crept close to the Union 
sentinels, sprang like sinewy Ajaxes upon them and 
prevented the discharge of a single alarm shot. Had 
these faithful Union sentinels been permitted to fire 
alarm guns, my dense columns, while rushing upon the 
fort, would have been torn into fragments by the heavy 
guns. Simultaneously with the seizing and silencing of 
the Federal sentinels, my stalwart axemen leaped over 
our breastworks, closely followed by the selected 300 and 
the packed column of infantry. Although it required 
but a few minutes to reach the Union works, those 
minutes were to me like hours of suspense and breath- 
less anxiety ; but soon was heard the thud of the heavy 
axes as my brave fellows slashed down the Federal 
obstructions. The next moment the infantry sprang 
upon the Union breastworks and into the fort, overpow- 
ering the gunners before their destructive charges could 
be emptied into the mass of Confederates. They turned 
this captured artillery upon the flanking lines on each 
side of the fort, clearing the Union breastworks of their 
defenders for some distance in both directions. Up to 
this point, the success had exceeded my most sanguine 
expectations. We had taken Fort Stedman and a long 
line of breastworks on either side. We had captured 
nine heavy cannon, eleven mortars, nearly 1000 pris- 
oners, including General McLaughlin, with the loss of 
less than half a dozen men. One of these fell upon the 
works, pierced through the body by a Federal bayonet, 
one of the few men thus killed in the four years of war. 
I was in the fort myself, and relieved General McLaugh- 
lin by assuming command of Fort Stedman. 

From the fort I sent word to General Lee, who was on 
a hill in the rear, that we were in the works and that 


the 300 were on their way to the lines in the rear. Soon 
I received a message from one of these three officers, I 
believe General Lewis of North Carolina, that he had 
passed the line of Federal infantry without trouble by 

representing himself as Colonel of the Hundredth 

Pennsylvania, but that he could not find his fort, as the 
guide had been lost in the rush upon Stedman. I soon 
received a similar message from the other two, and so 
notified General Lee. 

Daylight was coming. Through the failure of the 
three guides, we had failed to occupy the three forts in 
the rear, and they were now filled with Federals. Our 
wretched railroad trains had broken down, and the 
troops who were coming to my aid did not reach me. 
The full light of the morning revealed the gathering 
forces of Grant and the great preponderance of his 
numbers. It was impossible for me to make further 
headway with my isolated corps, and General Lee 
directed me to withdraw. This was not easily accom- 
plished. Foiled by the failure of the guides, deprived 
of the great bodies of infantry which Lee ordered to my 
support, I had necessarily stretched out my corps to 
occupy the intrenchments which we had captured. The 
other troops were expected to arrive and join in the 
general advance. The breaking down of the trains and 
the non-arrival of these heavy supports left me to battle 
alone with Grant's gathering and overwhelming forces, 
and at the same time to draw in my own lines toward Fort 
Stedman. A consuming fire on both flanks and front 
during this withdrawal caused a heavy loss to my com- 
mand. I myself was wounded, but not seriously, in re- 
crossing the space over which we had charged in the 
darkness. Among the disabled was the gallant Brigadier- 
General Philip Cook of Georgia, who after the war 
represented his people in the United States Congress. 

When the retreat to our own works had ended, a 


report reached me that an entire Confederate regiment 
had not received the order to withdraw, and was still 
standing in the Union breastworks, bravely fighting. It 
was necessary to send them orders or leave them to their 
fate. I called my staff around me, and explained the 
situation and the extreme danger the officer would en- 
counter in carrying that order. I stated to them that the 
pain I experienced in sending one of them on so perilous 
a mission was greater than I could express. Every one 
of them quickly volunteered to go ; but Thomas G. Jones 
of Alabama insisted that as he was the youngest and had 
no special responsibilities, it should fall to his lot to 
incur the danger. I bade him good-by with earnest 
prayers that Cod would protect him, and without an 
apparent tremor he rode away. A portion of the trip 
was through a literal furnace of fire, but he passed 
through it, both going and returning, without a scratch. 
This last supreme effort to break the hold of General 
Grant upon Petersburg and Richmond was the expiring 
struggle of the Confederate giant, whose strength was 
nearly exhausted and whose limbs were heavily shackled 
by the most onerous conditions. Lee knew, as we all 
did, that the chances against us were as a hundred is to 
one ; but we remembered how George Washington, with 
his band of ragged rebels, had won American indepen- 
dence through trials and sufferings and difficulties, and 
although they were far less discouraging and insurmount- 
able than those around us, they were nevertheless many 
and great. It seemed better, therefore, to take the one 
chance, though it might be one in a thousand, rather than 
to stand still while the little army was being depleted, 
its vitality lessening with each setting sun, and its life 
gradually ebbing, while the great army in its front was 
growing and strengthening day by day. To wait was cer- 
tain destruction : it could not be worse if we tried and 
failed. The accidents and mishaps which checked the 


brilliant assault made by my brave men, and which ren- 
dered their further advance impossible, could not have 
been anticipated. But for those adverse happenings, it 
would seem that we might have won on that single 

This spasm of Confederate aggressive vigor inaugu- 
rated the period of more than two weeks of almost 
incessant battle, beginning on the morning of March 
25th with the charge of my troops at Petersburg, and 
ending with the last charge of Lee's army, made by these 
same men on the morning of April 9th at Appomattox, 



Religious spirit of the soldiers in extremity— Some amusing anecdotes 
— FaU of Five Forks-Death of General A. P. Hill-The line of de- 
fence stretched to breaking — General Lee's order to withdraw from 
Petersburg— Continuous fighting during the retreat— Stirring ad- 
venture of a Confederate scout— His retaliation— Lee directs the 
movement toward Appomattox. 

PETERSBURG— the Cockade City— was scarcely less 
noted than Richmond itself for its high military 
spirit, its devotion to the Confederacy, and the extent 
of its sacrifices for the Southern cause. There was 
scarcely a home within its corporate limits that was 
not open to the sick and wounded of Lee's army. Its 
patriotic citizens denied themselves all luxuries and 
almost actual necessaries in order to feed and strengthen 
the hungry fighters in the trenches. Its women, who 
were noted for culture and refinement, became nurses, 
as consecrated as Florence Nightingale, as they soothed 
the sufferings and strengthened the hopes of the dying 
soldiers. Now and then, in the experiences of the young 
people, the subtle radiance of romance lighted up the 
gloom of the hospitals. 

A beautiful Southern girl, on her daily mission of 
love and mercy, asked a badly wounded soldier boy what 
she could do for him. He replied : "I'm greatly obliged 
to you, but it is too late for you to do anything for me. 
I am so badly shot that I can't live long." 



" Will you not let me pray for you % I hope that I am 
one of the Lord's daughters, and I would like to ask Him 
to help you." 

Looking intently into her bewitching face, he replied : 
" Yes, pray at once, and ask the Lord to let me be His 

The susceptible young soldier had evidently received, 
at this interview, another wound, which served to con- 
vert his apprehensions of death into a longing for do- 
mestic life. 

During the two weeks following the sudden seizure of 
Fort Stedman and its equally sudden release, my legs 
were rarely out of my long boots. For eight days 
the shifting scenes and threatening demonstrations on 
my front, and in front of A. P. Hill on my right, kept 
me on horseback until my tired limbs and aching joints 
made a constant appeal for rest. The coming of night 
brought little or no cessation of the perplexing and fa- 
tiguing activities. Night after night troops were march- 
ing, heavy guns were roaring, picket-lines were driven 
in and had to be reestablished ; and the great mortars 
from both Union and Confederate works were hurling 
high in the air their ponderous shells, which crossed each 
other's paths and, with burning fuses, like tails of flying 
comets, descended in meteoric showers on the opposing 
intrenchments. The breastworks protecting the battle- 
lines were so high and broad that the ordinary cannon- 
balls and shells could not penetrate them and reach the 
soldiers who stood behind them. In order, therefore, to 
throw shells into the ranks of the opposing army, these 
mortars were introduced. They were short, big-mouthed 
cannon, and were pointed upward, but leaning slightly 
toward the enemy's lines, and their great shells were 
hurled skyward, and then came whirling down, exploding 
with terrific force among the men who stood or slept be- 
hind the breastworks. 


At a point near where the left of A. P. Hill's corps 
touched the right of mine, a threatened attack brought 
together for counsel a number of officers from each of 
these commands. After this conference as to the proper 
disposition of troops for resisting the expected assault, 
we withdrew into a small log hut standing near, and 
united in prayer to Almighty God for His guidance. As 
we assembled, one of our generals was riding within 
hailing distance, and General Harry Heth of Hill's corps 
stepped to the door of the log cabin and called to him to 
come in and unite with us in prayer. The officer did not 
understand the nature of General Heth's invitation, and 
replied : " No, thank you, general ; no more at present ; 
I 've just had some." 

This amusing incident, while it convulsed the small 
assemblage with laughter, did not delay many moments 
the earnest petitions for deliverance. From the com- 
mander-in-chief to the privates in the ranks, there was a 
deep and sincere religious feeling in Lee's army. When- 
ever it was convenient or practicable, these hungry but 
unyielding men were holding prayer-meetings. Their sup- 
plications were fervent and often inspiring, but now and 
then there were irresistibly amusing touches. At one of 
these gatherings for prayer was a private who had lost 
one leg. Unable to kneel, he sat with bowed head, while 
one of his comrades, whom we shall call Brother Jones, 
led in prayer. Brother Jones was earnestly praying 
for more manhood, more strength, and more courage. 
The brave old one-legged Confederate did not like 
Brother Jones's prayer. At that period of the war, he 
felt that it was almost absurd to be asking God to give 
the Confederates more courage, of which virtue they 
already had an abundant supply. So he called out from 
his seat: "Hold on there, Brother Jones. Don't you 
know you are praying all wrong? Why don't you pray 
for more provisions ? We 've got more courage now than 
we have any use for ! " 


This did not occur in my immediate camp, but a sim- 
ilar incident did. In a meeting for prayer near my head- 
quarters, there was more than the usual impressiveness 
— more of that peculiar sadness which is significant of a 
brave despair. As in all the religious gatherings in the 
army, all denominations of Christians were represented. 
The chaplain who conducted the solemn services 
asked a number of officers and others to lead in prayer. 
Among them, he called upon a private who belonged to 
my sharpshooters, and who had not had the advan- 
tages of an early education. This consecrated soldier 
knelt close by my side, and with his heart all aglow with 
the spirit of the meeting, and his mind filled with strong 
convictions as to the justice of our cause, he said in a clear, 
ringing voice : " Oh, Lord, we are having a mighty big 
fight down here, and a sight of trouble ; and we do hope, 
Lord, that you will take a proper view of this subject, 
and give us the victory." 

As for himself, he had no doubt as to what a " proper 
view" of the great conflict was. None of them had. 
While they fully comprehended the situation from an 
earthly or purely military point of view, they hoped to 
the last that by some miraculous intervention the "proper 
view of the subject" would ultimately prevail. 

The general-in-chief and his corps commanders were 
kept fairly well advised by our scouts as to General 
Grant's preparations and movements; but, independent 
of this direct intelligence, there were other indications 
which could not be misunderstood. The roads were wet, 
and hence no clouds of dust rose above the the tree-tops 
to tell us during the day of Grant's progress ; but at night 
his camp-fires in the pines painted a light on the horizon 
near us which admonished us that he was marching 
around our right to seize the South Side Railroad and 
force us out of our trenches. Sheridan's large bodies of 
cavalry, supported by infantry, soon appeared in the 
neighborhood of Five Forks — a point from which roads 


led in five directions. It was a strategic point of such 
importance to Lee, for either the continued defence of 
Petersburg or the withdrawal of his army, that he deter- 
mined to hold it until surrender was inevitable. He, 
therefore, adopted the same bold, aggressive policy 
which had so repeatedly thwarted the flank movements 
of his great antagonist on every battle-field from the 
Wilderness to Petersburg. Withdrawing all the troops 
that could be spared from the trenches, Lee hurled his 
depleted but still resolute little army against Grant's 
heavy lines of infantry on the march to Five Forks, and 
drove back in confusion that portion of the Federal 
army ; but the small Confederate force there employed 
was utterly inadequate either to press the temporary 
advantage or to hold the position it had won. It was 
quickly swept from the front of the overpowering Fed- 
erals, and the concentration upon Five Forks was accom- 
plished. The small force of Confederates which defended 
it fought with characteristic courage. In the first en- 
counter General Sheridan's forces were repelled from 
the breastworks. But soon the devoted little band of 
gray was torn by artillery, harried by cavalry, and as- 
saulted by infantry on every side ; and the Confederate 
flags went down, while their brave defenders were sur- 
rounded by a cordon of fire. Five Forks fell, with the 
loss of large numbers of Confederates in killed, wounded, 
and prisoners. Turning from Five Forks in the direction 
of Petersburg, the victorious Federals came upon the 
flank and rear of the defensive works around the city. 
Longstreet's corps had been ordered from the lines 
around Richmond, but came too late to prevent the dis- 
aster at Five Forks. It was not too late, however, to 
check the flanking force of Federals marching upon the 
city from that direction. A part of A. P. Hill's corps was 
formed at right angles to the trenches and shared in the 
furious fighting. That brilliant corps-commander and 


devoted patriot, whose name was the synonym of chiv- 
alry, gave his life to the cause he loved in these last dark 
hours of the expiring Confederacy. 

As General Lee rode back toward Petersburg from 
Five Forks, near which he had led in person a brilliant 
and successful charge, he said to one of his aides : "This 
is a sad business, colonel." In a few minutes he added : 
" It has happened as I told them in Richmond it would 
happen. The line has been stretched until it is broken." 
On this melancholy ride the shattered and ragged 
remnants of his army, still proud, hopeful, and de- 
fiant, saluted him at every point with shouts of wel- 
come, indicating their undiminished admiration and 

This was the first day of April. Not one day of rest 
had been given these starving men to recover from the 
winter's trials and sufferings, which have been so truth- 
fully described by the graphic pen of Dr. Henry Alexan- 
der White : 

Winter poured down its snows and its sleets upon Lee's shel- 
terless men in the trenches. Some of them burrowed into the 
earth. Most of them shivered over the feeble fires, kept burn- 
ing along the fines. Scanty and thin were the garments of 
these heroes. Most of them were clad in mere rags. Gaunt 
famine oppressed them every hour. One quarter of a pound of 
rancid bacon and a little meal was the daily portion assigned to 
each man by the rules of the War Department. But even this 
allowance failed when the railroads broke down and left the 
bacon and the flour and the meal piled up beside the tracks in 
Georgia and the Carolinas. One sixth of this daily ration was 
the allotment for a considerable time, and very often the supply 
of bacon failed entirely. . . . With dauntless hearts these gaunt- 
faced men endured the almost ceaseless fire of Grant's mortar- 
batteries. The frozen fingers of Lee's army of sharpshooters 
clutched the musket barrel with an aim so steady that Grant's 
men scarcely ever lifted their heads from their bomb-proofs. 


These men— less than 40,000 in number— had held for 
many months a battle-line forty miles long, stretching 
from the Chickahominy to Hatcher's Run. My own 
corps was stretched until the men stood like a row of 
vedettes, fifteen feet apart, in the trenches. Portions of 
my line — it was not a line ; it was the mere skeleton of 
a line— had been broken by assaults at daybreak on 
April 2. There were no troops— not a man— in reserve 
to help us; but no extremity appalled my grim and 
gaunt-visaged fighters. At the command they assem- 
bled at double quick in more compact lines around those 
points which had been seized and were still held by the 
Federals, densely packed in the captured intrenchments. 
By desperate charges, one after another of these breaches 
in my line was restored, until but one remained in pos- 
session of the enemy. I was in the act of concentrating 
for a supreme effort to restore this last breach, when 
Colonel Charles Marshall of General Lee's staff reached 
me with a message from the commander-in-chief. It 
was to admonish me of the dire disaster at Five Forks 
on the extreme right flank of our army, of the approach 
of the triumphant and overwhelming Union forces in 
rear of our defences, of the forced abandonment by A. 
P. Hill of his works, and of the death of that superb 
officer. In the face of this almost complete crushing of 
every command defending the entire length of our lines 
on my right, the restoration of the remaining breach in 
my front could contribute nothing toward the rescue of 
Lee's army. He, therefore, directed that I sacrifice no 
more men in the effort to recover entire control of my 
works, but that I maintain my compact line around this 
last breach, prevent, if possible, Grant's effort to send 
through it his forces into the city, and at any sacrifice 
hold my position until night, and until all the other com- 
mands could be withdrawn. "When this withdrawal had 
been accomplished, my command was to silently evacuate 


Petersburg, and cover the retreat of Lee's brave but 
shattered little army. 

The indomitable spirit of my men was never more 
strikingly shown than in their cheerful response to this 
command. I feel constrained at this point to place upon 
record the fact that these were the same men who 
scarcely one week before had made the daring plunge in 
the darkness which resulted in the capture of Fort 
Stedman and its flanking lines ; the same men who on 
the first day at Gettysburg had turned the tide of battle ; 
who at sunset on the 6th of May, in the Wilderness, had 
carried dismay to the right flank of the Federal army ; 
who at Spottsylvania had made the furious counter- 
charge under the eye of Lee ; who at Cedar Creek had 
rushed upon Sheridan's left with resistless momentum, 
and to whom I have endeavored to do but simple justice 
in my account of the oscillating fortunes of the two 
armies on that field. They were the men whose record 
will brighten for all time every page of the history of 
that immortal army which a knightly and able Federal 
soldier has pronounced "the best which has existed on this 
continent." In a paper read before the Military Histori- 
cal Society of Massachusetts, General Charles A. Whittier 
of the Union army says : 

The Army of Northern Virginia will deservedly rank as the 
best which has existed on this continent. Suffering privations 
unknown to its opponents, it fought well from the early Penin- 
sula days to the surrender of that small remnant at Appomattox. 
It seemed always ready, active, mobile. Without doubt, it was 
composed of the best men of the South, rushing to what they 
considered the defence of their country against a bitter invader ; 
and they took the places assigned them, officer or private, and 
fought until beaten by superiority of numbers. The North sent 
no such army to the field, and its patriotism was of easier char- 
acter, etc. 

In the same historical paper General Whittier says : 


As a matter of comparison, we have lately read that from 
William and Mary College, Virginia, thirty-two out of thirty-five 
professors and instructors abandoned the college work and joined 
the army in the field. Harvard College sent one professor from 
its large corps of professors and instructors. 

In every Southern State the universities and colleges 
sent to the front their students and the flower of their 
alumni as volunteers. It is stated that nine tenths of the 
students of the University of Virginia enlisted for the war. 
In the Rockbridge battery there were seven masters of 
arts of the university, twenty-eight college graduates, and 
twenty-five theological students. Among these privates 
was R. E. Lee, Jr., son of the great commander. 

On my staff as volunteer aide was Professor Basil A. 
Gildersleeve of the University of Virginia, now of Johns 
Hopkins University. Dr. Gildersleeve has no superior 
in the country as a Greek scholar, and is one of the 
most distinguished of our classical writers. He was a 
most efficient officer, and exhibited in extreme peril a 
high order of courage and composure. While bearing 
an order in battle he was desperately wounded and 
maimed for life. 

These and many similar facts which could be given de- 
monstrate the justice of General Whittier's estimate. 

General Grant, in this last movement upon our lines at 
Petersburg, hurled against us his army of 124,000 l brave 
and superbly equipped soldiers. To resist them General 
Lee could then bring into line about 35,000 worn and 
wan but consecrated fighters. Possibly one half of these 
had been, on the 1st and 2d of April, killed, wounded, and 
captured, or the commands to which they belonged had 
been so broken to pieces as to eliminate them from the 
effective forces. There was no hope for us except in 

1 These figures are taken from the ' ' Confederate Military History, " Vol. Ill, 
p. 531. 


Under orders from the general-in-chief, the old corps 
of Stonewall Jackson, which it was my privilege to com- 
mand, was the last of his army to abandon forever those 
mortar-battered lines of defence around Petersburg. 
After the hour of midnight, when all other troops were 
safely on the march to the rear, the Second Army Corps 
silently and sadly withdrew from the blood-stained 
trenches in which Lee's peerless army had exhibited for 
nine weary months a patience in suffering, a steadfast- 
ness under discouraging conditions, and a strength in 
resistance unexampled in war. 

As the last broken file of that matchless army stepped 
from the bridge and my pioneer corps lighted the flames 
that consumed it, there came to me a vivid and depress- 
ing realization of the meaning of the appalling tragedy 
of the last two days. The breaking of Lee's power had 
shattered the last hope of Southern independence, But 
another burden— a personal woe — was weighing upon 
me. I had left behind me in that city of gloom the wife 
who had followed me during the entire war. She was 
ill. But as I rode away from Petersburg during the dis- 
mal hours of that night, I found comfort in the hope that 
some chivalric soldier of the Union army would learn of 
her presence and guard her home against all intruders. 
My confidence in American manhood was not misplaced. 

To bring up the rear and adequately protect the 
retreating army was an impossible task. With charac- 
teristic vigor General Grant pressed the pursuit. Soon 
began the continuous and final battle. Fighting all day, 
marching all night, with exhaustion and hunger claiming 
their victims at every mile of the march, with charges 
of infantry in rear and of cavalry on the flanks, it seemed 
the war god had turned loose all his furies to revel in 
havoc. On and on, hour after hour, from hilltop to hill- 
top, the lines were alternately forming, fighting, and 
retreating, making one almost continuous shifting battle. 


Here, in one direction, a battery of artillery became 
involved ; there, in another, a blocked ammunition train 
required rescue: and thus came short but sharp little 
battles which made up the side shows of the main per- 
formance, while the different divisions of Lee's lion- 
hearted army were being broken and scattered or 
captured. Out of one of these whirlwinds there came 
running at the top of his speed a boy soldier whose wit 
flashed out even in that dire extremity. "When asked 
why he was running, he shouted back : 

" Golly, captain, I 'm running 'cause I can't fly ! " 

On the night of the 6th of April, three days before 
the final surrender, my superb scout, young George of 
Virginia, who recently died in Danville, greatly honored 
and loved by his people, brought to me under guard two 
soldiers dressed in full Confederate uniform, whom he 
had arrested on suspicion, believing that they belonged 
to the enemy. About two months prior to this arrest I 
had sent George out of Petersburg on a most perilous 
mission. All of his scouting was full of peril. I directed 
him to go in the rear of General Grant's lines, to get as close 
as he could to the general's headquarters, and, if possible, 
catch some one with despatches, or in some way bring 
me reliable information as to what was being done by 
the Union commander. George was remarkably con- 
scientious, intelligent, and accurate in his reports. He 
always wore his Confederate gray jacket, which would 
protect him from the penalty of death as a spy if he 
should be captured. But he also wore, when on his 
scouting expeditions, a pale blue overcoat captured from 
the Union army. A great many of our soldiers wore 
these overcoats because they had no others. 

On this particular expedition George was hiding in 
the woods not far from General Grant's headquarters, 
when he saw passing near him two men in Confederate 
uniform. It was late in the evening, nearly dark. He 


at once made himself known to them, supposing that 
they were scouting for some other corps in Lee's army. 
But they were Sheridan's men, belonging to his " Jessie 
scouts," and they instantly drew their revolvers upon 
George and marched him to General Grant's head- 
quarters. He was closely questioned by the Union com- 
mander ; but he was too intelligent to make any mistakes 
in his answers. He showed his gray jacket, which saved 
him from execution as a spy, and he was placed in the 
guard-house. His opportunity for escape came late one 
night, when he found a new recruit on guard at his 
prison door. This newly enlisted soldier was a foreigner, 
and had very little knowledge of the English language ; 
but he knew what a twenty-dollar gold piece was. The 
Confederacy did not have much gold, but our scouts 
were kept supplied with it. George pulled out of the 
lining of his jacket the gold piece, placed it in the 
foreigner's hand, turned the fellow's back to the door, 
and walked quickly out of the guard-house. George 
would not have dared to attempt such a programme with 
an American on guard. 

He reached our lines, and reported these details only 
a few days before our last retreat was begun. During 
that retreat on the night of April 6, 1865, as I rode 
among my men, he brought two soldiers under guard to 
me, and said : " General, here are two men who are 
wearing our uniforms and say they belong to Fitzhugh 
Lee's cavalry ; but I believe they are Yankees. ' I had 
them placed under guard for you to examine." 

I questioned the men closely, and could find no suffi- 
cient ground for George's suspicions. They seemed 
entirely self-possessed and at ease under my rigid exam- 
ination. They gave me the names of Fitzhugh Lee's 
regimental and company commanders, said they be- 
longed to a certain mess, and gave the names of the 
members, and, without a moment's hesitation, gave 


prompt answer to every question I asked. I said to 
George that they seemed to me all right ; but he pro- 
tested, saying: "No, general, they are not all right. I 
saw them by the starlight counting your files." ODe of 
them at once said : " Yes ; we were trying to get some 
idea of your force. We have been at home on sick-leave 
for a long time, and wanted to know if we had any army 
left." This struck me as a little suspicious, and I 
pounded them again with questions. " You say that you 
have been home on sick-leave ! " 

"Yes, sir; we have been at home several weeks, and 
fell in with your command to-night, hoping that you 
could tell us how to get to General Fitzhugh Lee's 

"If you have been at home sick, you ought to have 
your furloughs with you." 

"We have, sir. We have our furlough papers here in 
our pockets, signed by our own officers, and approved 
by General R. E. Lee. If we had a light you could 
examine them and see that they are all right." 

George, who was listening to this conversation, which 
occurred while we were riding, again insisted that it did 
not matter what these men said or what they had ; they 
were Yankees. I directed that they be brought on 
under guard until I could examine their papers. 

We soon came to a burning log heap on the roadside, 
which had been kindled by some of the troops who had 
passed at an earlier hour of the night. The moment the 
full light fell upon their faces, George exclaimed : " Gen- 
eral, these are the two men who captured me nearly 
two months ago behind General Grant's headquarters." 

They ridiculed the suggestion, and at once drew from 
their pockets the furloughs. These papers seemed to be 
correct, and the signatures of the officers, including that 
of General Lee, seemed to be genuine. This evidence 
did not yet satisfy George nor shake his convictions. 


He said that the signatures of our officers were forged, 
or these men had captured some of our men who had 
furloughs, and had taken the papers from them, and were 
now personating the real owners. He asked me to make 
them dismount, that he might " go through them," as he 
described his proposed search. He fingered every seam 
in their coats, took off their cavalry sabres, and searched 
their garments, but found nothing. At last he asked me 
to make them sit down and let him pull off their boots. 
One personated a Confederate private; the other wore 
the uniform of a lieutenant of cavalry. George drew 
the boots from the lieutenant's feet, and under the lin- 
ing of one he found an order from General Grant to 
General Ord, directing the latter to move rapidly by cer- 
tain roads and cut off Lee's retreat at Appomattox. As 
soon as this order was found, the young soldier admitted 
the truth of George's statement — that they were the two 
men who captured him behind Grant's lines. I said to 
them : " Well, you know your fate. Under the laws of 
war you have forfeited your lives by wearing this uni- 
form, and I shall have you shot at sunrise to-morrow 

They received this announcement without the slightest 
appearance of nervousness. The elder could not have 
been more than nineteen or twenty years of age, while 
his companion was a beardless youth. One of them said 
with perfect composure : " General, we understand it all. 
We knew when we entered this kind of service, and put 
on these uniforms, that we were taking our lives in our 
hands, and that we should be executed if we were cap- 
tured. You have the right to have us shot ; but the war 
can't last much longer, and it would do you no good to 
have us killed." 

I had no thought of having them executed, but I did 
not tell them so. I sent the captured order to General 
Lee, and at four o'clock on the morning of the 7th he 


wrote me in pencil a note which was preserved by my 
chief of staff, Major R. W. Hunter, now of Alexandria, 
Virginia. It was sent, a few years ago, to Mrs. Gordon, 
to be kept by her as a memento of this most remarkable 
incident. Unhappily, it was lost in the fire which, in 
1899, consumed my home. In that brief note, General 
Lee directed me to march by certain roads toward Appo- 
mattox as rapidly as the physical condition of my men 
would permit. Thus, by General Lee's direction, my 
command was thrown to the front, that we might thwart, 
if possible, the purpose of the Union commander to 
check at Appomattox our retrograde movement. 

General Lee approved my suggestion to spare the lives 
of Sheridan's captured il Jessie scouts," and directed me 
to bring them along with my command. This incident 
closed with my delivery of the young soldiers to General 
Sheridan on the morning of Lee's surrender. 



The Army of Northern Virginia reduced to a skeleton— General Lee's 
calm bearing — The last Confederate council of war — Decision upon 
a final attempt to break Grant's lines— The last charge of the war- 
Union breastworks carried— A fruitless victory— Flag of truce sent 
to General Ord— Conference with General Sheridan— An armistice. 

BEFORE reaching the end of our journey, which termi- 
nated abruptly at the little village of Appomattox, the 
Army of Northern Virginia had become the mere skele- 
ton of its former self. At Sailor's Creek, Anderson's 
corps was broken and destroyed, and General Ewell, with 
almost his entire command, was captured, as was Gen- 
eral Kershaw, General Custis Lee, son of the general- 
in-chief, and other prominent officers. I had discovered 
the movement threatening Ewell, and had sought to 
apprise him of his danger and to aid in his escape; 
but my own command was assailed at almost the same 
instant, and was precipitated into a short but strenuous 
battle for its own safety. The advance of Grant's army 
struck Ewell upon one road and my command upon an- 
other almost simultaneously. Rushing through the 
broad gap between Ewell and myself, the heavy Federal 
force soon surrounded the command of that brave old 
one-legged hero, and forced him to surrender. Another 
Union column struck my command while we were en- 
deavoring to push the ponderous wagon-trains through 
the bog, out of which the starved teams were unable to 



drag them. Many of these wagons, loaded with ammu- 
nition, mired so deep in the mud that they had to be 
abandoned. It was necessary to charge and force back 
the Union lines in order to rescue my men from this 
perilous position. Indeed, not only was my command 
in almost incessant battle as we covered the retreat, but 
every portion of our marching column was being assailed 
by Grant's cavalry and infantry. The roads and fields 
and woods swarmed with eager pursuers, and Lee now 
and then was forced to halt his whole army, reduced to 
less than 10,000 fighters, in order to meet these simul- 
taneous attacks. Various divisions along the line of 
march turned upon the. Federals, and in each case 
checked them long enough for some other Confederate 
commands to move on. Mahone's infantry and Fitzhugh 
Lee's cavalry were engaged far in advance. The latter 
command captured General Gregg, who, with other 
prisoners, joined our retreat. I observed General Gregg 
marching on foot, and asked him to accept a mount, as 
he was not accustomed to travelling as an infantry sol- 
dier. He expressed appreciation of the offer, but de- 
clined, preferring to share the fate of his men. 

General Lee was riding everywhere and watching 
everything, encouraging his brave men by his calm and 
cheerful bearing. He was often exposed to great danger 
from shells and bullets; but, in answer to protests, his 
reply was that he was obliged to see for himself what 
was going on. As he sat on his horse near Farmville 
during a sharp engagement, watching the effect of the 
fire from one of our batteries which was playing upon 
the enemy, a staff officer rode up to him with a message. 
The general noticed that this officer had exposed him- 
self unnecessarily in approaching him, and he repri- 
manded the young soldier for not riding on the side of 
the hill where he would be protected from the enemy's 
fire. The young officer replied that he would be 


ashamed to seek protection while the commanding gen- 
eral was so exposing himself. General Lee sharply re- 
plied : " It is my duty to be here. Go back the way I 
told you, sir." 

Thus the great chieftain was teaching by example the 
lesson of devotion to duty at any risk, and teaching by 
precept that noblest of lessons, unselfish consideration 
for others. 

This was no new phase of his soldier life. It was not 
an exhibition of attributes developed by the trying con- 
ditions around him. It was simply a natural expression 
of the spirit that made him great and good. Many inci- 
dents in his army career illustrate the same elements of 
character. At some point below Richmond, he was 
standing near a battery, when the men crowded around 
him, evidencing their admiration and affection. The 
group grew so large as to attract the enemy's attention, 
and drew a heavy fire; whereupon the general said to 
the privates around him : " Men, you had better go back 
to your places. They are firing at this point, and you 
are exposing yourselves to unnecessary danger." He 
remained there himself for some minutes, and then, as 
he walked quietly away, he picked up a small object and 
placed it on the limb of a tree. It was afterward ascer- 
tained that it was an unfledged sparrow that had fallen 
from its nest. 

In the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, and along the 
lines at Petersburg, he exposed himself whenever and 
wherever his presence seemed needful. The protests of 
his officers and soldiers against this habit were so fre- 
quent that he said on one occasion, half humorously, 
half complainingly : "I do wish somebody would tell 
me where my place is on the field of battle ; wherever I 
go to look after the fight, I am told, ' This is no place for 
you ; you must go away.'" 

General Benjamin Butterworth of Ohio ("Honest 


Ben," as he was familarly called during his service as 
member of Congress from the Buckeye State) gave me, 
after the war, an account of an incident occurring on this 
final retreat which was both pathetic and amusing. It il- 
lustrates that remarkable and unique phase of the great 
struggle, the feeling of genuine comradeship, which 
existed between the soldiers of the hostile armies. On 
that doleful retreat of Lee's army, it was impossible for 
us to bury our dead or carry with us the disabled 
wounded. There was no longer any room in the 
crowded ambulances which had escaped capture and 
still accompanied our trains. We could do nothing for 
the unfortunate sufferers who were too severely 
wounded to march, except leave them on the roadside 
with canteens of water. A big-hearted soldier-boy in 
blue came across a desperately wounded Confederate 
shot through legs and body, lying in his bloody bed of 
leaves, groaning with pain and sighing for relief in 
death. The generous Federal was so moved by the har- 
rowing spectacle that he stopped at the side of the Con- 
federate and asked : " What can I do for you, Johnny ? 
I want to help you if I can." 

" Thank you for your sympathy," the sufferer replied, 
" but no one can help me now. It will not be long till 
death relieves me." 

The Union soldier bade him good-by, and was in the 
act of leaving, when the wounded Southerner called to 
him : " Yes, Yank ; there is something you might do for 
me. You might pray for me before you go." 

This Union boy had probably never uttered aloud a 
word of prayer in all his life. But his emotions were 
deeply stirred, and through his tears he looked around 
for some one more accustomed to lead in prayer. Dis- 
covering some of his comrades passing, he called to 
them : " Come here, boys, and come quick. Here is a 
poor Johnny shot all to pieces, and he 's dying. One 


of you must come and pray for him. He wants me to 

pray for him ; but you know I can't pray worth a ." 

Two days before the surrender, a number of officers 
held a council as to what was best to be done. I was 
not present, but I learned through others that three 
propositions were discussed : 

1. To disband and allow the troops to get away as 
best they could, and reform at some designated point. 

This was abandoned because a dispersion over the 
country would be a dreadful infliction upon our impov- 
erished people, and because it was most improbable that 
all the men would reach the rallying-point. 

2. To abandon all trains, and concentrate the entire 
Confederate army in a compact body, and cut through 
Grant's lines. 

This proposition was in turn discarded, because with- 
out ammunition trains we could not hope to continue 
the struggle many days. 

3. To surrender at once. 

It was decided that this last course would be wisest, 
and these devoted officers felt that they should do all in 
their power to relieve General Lee by giving him their 
moral support in taking the step. General Grant had 
not then written his first note to Lee, asking surrender. 
General Pendleton, who was the Confederate chief of 
artillery, and a close personal friend of the commander, 
was selected by the council to acquaint him with the 
result of its deliberations. General Pendleton gave a 
most graphic description of his interview with General 
Lee. He said that the general-in-chief instantly replied : 

" Oh, no. I trust it has not come to that. We have too 
many bold men to think of laying down our arms." 

General Pendleton related that the general referred to 
the beginning of the Southern struggle for independence, 
and said, in substance, that he had never believed that, 
with the vast power against us, we could win our inde- 


pendence unless we were aided by foreign powers. " But," 
added General Lee, " such, considerations really made no 
difference with me." And then he uttered those memorable 
words: "We had, I was satisfied, sacred principles to 
maintain and rights to defend, for which we were in 
duty bound to do our best, even if wo perished in the 

This great soldier understood the spirit which led the 
officers in that conference to recommend his surrender. 
He knew their devotion to the cause and their devotion 
to him, but he was not ready to consider the necessity 
for surrender. He doubtless had this conference in mind 
later, when he perpetrated upon General Wise the joke 
which General Long has recorded. General Wise, in the 
absence of either basin or towel, had washed his face in 
a pool of water impregnated with red clay. The water 
dried, leaving the red stains on his countenance. Gen- 
eral Lee was much amused at the grotesque appearance 
of Wise, and saluted him as he approached : 

" Good morning, General Wise. I perceive that you, at 
any rate, have not given up the contest, as you are in 
your war-paint this morning." 

In his report written three days after the surrender, 
and addressed to "His Excellency, Jefferson Davis," 
General Lee states that when we reached Appomattox 
his army had been " reduced to two corps under Long- 
street and Gordon." He also says in that report : " On 
the morning of the 9th, according to the reports of the 
ordnance officers, there were 7892 organized infaD try with 

On the evening of April 8th, this little army, with 
its ammunition nearly exhausted, was confronted by the 
forces of General Grant, which had been thrown across 
our line of retreat at Appomattox. Then came the last 
sad Confederate council of war. It was called by Lee to 
meet at night. It met in the woods at his headquarters 


and by a low-burning bivouac-fire. There was no tent 
there, no table, no chairs, and no camp-stools. On 
blankets spread upon the ground or on saddles at the 
roots of the trees, we sat around the great commander. 
A painter's brush might transfer to canvas the physical 
features of that scene, but no tongue or pen will ever be 
able to describe the unutterable anguish of Lee's com- 
manders as they looked into the clouded face of their 
beloved leader and sought to draw from it some ray of 

There were present at this final council the general- 
in-chief, the commander of his artillery, General Pendle- 
ton ; General Fitzhugh Lee, who in the absence of Wade 
Hampton commanded the cavalry, and General Long- 
street and myself, commanding all that was left of his 
immortal infantry. These fragments of each arm of 
the service still represented the consecration and courage 
that had made Lee's army, at the meridian of its power, 
almost invincible. 

The numbers and names of the staff officers who were 
present I cannot now recall ; and it would be as impos- 
sible to give the words that were spoken or the sug- 
gestions that were made as it would to photograph the 
thoughts and emotions of that soldier group gathered at 
Lee's last bivouac. The letters of General Grant asking 
surrender, and the replies thereto, evoked a discussion as 
to the fate of the Southern people and the condition in 
which the failure of our cause would leave them. There 
was also some discussion as to the possibility of forcing 
a passage through Grant's lines and saving a small por- 
tion of the army, and continuing a desultory warfare 
until the government at Washington should grow weary 
and grant to our people peace, and the safeguards of 
local self-government. If all that was said and felt at 
that meeting could be given it would make a volume of 
measureless pathos. In no hour of the great war did 


General Lee's masterful characteristics appear to me so 
conspicuous as they did in that last council. We knew 
by our own aching hearts that his was breaking. Yet 
he commanded himself, and stood calmly facing and dis- 
cussing the long-dreaded inevitable. 

It was finally determined that with Fitz Lee's cavalry, 
my infantry, and Long's artillery, under Colonel Thomas 
H. Carter, we should attempt at daylight the next morn- 
ing to cut through Grant's lines. Longstreet was to 
follow in support of the movement. 

The utmost that could be hoped for was that we might 
reach the mountains of Virginia and Tennessee with a 
remnant of the army, and ultimately join General John- 
ston. As we rode away from the meeting I directed a 
staff officer to return to General Lee and ask him if he 
had any specific directions as to where I should halt and 
camp for the night. He said : " Yes ; tell General Gordon 
that I should be glad for him to halt just beyond the 
Tennessee line." That line was about two hundred miles 
away, and Grant's battle-lines and breastworks were in 
our immediate front, ready to check any movement in 
that direction ; but General Lee knew that I would inter- 
pret his facetious message exactly as he intended it. 
His purpose was to let me infer that there was little 
hope of our escape and that it did not matter where I 
camped for the night ; but if we should succeed in cut- 
ting our way out, he expected me to press toward the 
goal in the mountains. 

The Federals had constructed a line of breastworks 
across our front during the night. The audacious move- 
ment of our troops was begun at dawn. The dashing 
cavalry leader, Fitzhugh Lee, swept around the Union 
left flank, while the infantry and artillery attacked the 
front. I take especial pride in recording the fact that this 
last • charge of the war was made by the footsore and 
starving men of my command with a spirit worthy the 


best days of Lee's army. The Union breastworks were 
carried. Two pieces of artillery were captured. The 
Federals were driven from all that portion of the field, 
and ;the brave boys in tattered gray cheered as their 
battle-flags waved in triumph on that last morning. 

The Confederate battle-lines were still advancing when 
I discovered a heavy column of Union infantry coming 
from the right and upon my rear. I gathered around me 
my sharpshooters, who were now held for such emer- 
gencies, and directed Colonel Thomas H. Carter of the 
artillery to turn all his guns upon the advancing column. 
It was held at bay by his shrapnel, grape, and canister. 
While the Confederate infantry and cavalry were thus 
fighting at the front, and the artillery was checking the 
development of Federal forces around my right and rear, 
Longstreet was assailed by other portions of the Federal 
army. He was so hardly pressed that he could not join, 
as contemplated, in the effort to break the cordon of men 
and metal around us. At this critical juncture a column 
of Union cavalry appeared on the hills to my left, headed 
for the broad space between Longstreet's command and 
mine. In a few minutes that body of Federal cavalry 
would not only have seized the trains but cut off all 
communication between the two wings of Lee's army 
and rendered its capture inevitable. I therefore de- 
tached a brigade to double-quick and intercept this Fed- 
eral force. 

Such was the situation, its phases rapidly shifting and 
growing more intensely thrilling at each moment, when 
I received a significant inquiry from General Lee. It 
was borne by Colonel Charles S. Venable of his staff, 
afterward the chairman of the faculty of the University 
of Virginia. The commander wished me to report at 
once as to the conditions on my portion of the field, what 
progress I was making, and what encouragement I could 
give. I said: "Tell General Lee that my command has 


been fought to a frazzle, and unless Longstreet can unite 
in the movement, or prevent these] forces from coming 
upon my rear, I cannot long go forward." Colonel 
Venable has left on record this statement : 

"At three o'clock on the morning of that fatal day, 
General Lee rode forward, still hoping that we might 
break through the countless hordes of the enemy who 
hemmed us in. Halting a short distance in rear of our 
vanguard, he sent me on to General Gordon to ask him if 
he could cut through the enemy. I found General 
Gordon and General Fitz Lee on their front line in the 
light of the morning, arranging an attack. Gordon's 
reply to the message (I give the expressive phrase of the 
Georgian) was this : ' Tell General Lee I have fought my 
corps to a frazzle, and I fear I can do nothing unless I 
am heavily supported by Longstreet's corps.' " 

Colonel Venable adds that when General Lee received 
my message, he said: "There is nothing left me but 
to go and see General Grant, and I had rather die a 
thousand deaths." 

My troops were still fighting, furiously fighting in 
nearly every direction, when the final note from General 
Lee reached me. It notified me that there was a flag of 
truce between General Grant and himself, stopping hos- 
tilities, and that I could communicate that fact to the 
commander of the Union forces in my front. There 
was no unnecessary delay in sending that message. I 
called Colonel Green Peyton of my staff, and directed 
him to take a flag of truce and bear the message to 
General Ord, who commanded, as I supposed, the Union 
infantry in my front. I ordered him to say to the 
Union commander this, and nothing more: "General 
Gordon has received notice from General Lee of a flag 
of truce, stopping the battle." Colonel Peyton soon in- 
formed me that we had no flag of truce. I said : " Well, 
take your handkerchief and tie that on a stick, and go." 


He felt in his pockets and said: "General, I have no 

" Then tear your shirt, sir, and tie that to a stick." 

He looked at his shirt, and then at mine, and said : 

"General, I have on a flannel shirt, and I see you 
have. I don't believe there is a white shirt in the army." 

" Get something, sir," I ordered. " Get something and 

He secured a rag of some sort, and rode rapidly 
away in search of General Ord. He did not find Ord, 
but he found Sheridan, and returned to me accompanied 
by an officer of strikingly picturesque appearance. This 
Union officer was slender and graceful, and a superb 
rider. He wore his hair very long, falling almost to his 
shoulders. Guided by my staff officer, he galloped to 
where I was sitting on my horse, and, with faultless 
grace and courtesy, saluted me with his sabre and said : 

"I am General Custer, and bear a message to you 
from General Sheridan. The general desires me to 
present to you his compliments, and to demand the im- 
mediate and unconditional surrender of all the troops 
under your command. I replied: "You will please, 
general, return my compliments to General Sheridan, 
and say to him that I shall not surrender my command." 

" He directs me to say to you, general, if there is any 
hesitation about your surrender, that he has you sur- 
rounded and can annihilate your command in an hour." 

To this I answered that I was probably as well aware 
of my situation as was General Sheridan ; that I had 
nothing to add to my message informing him of the 
contents of the note from General Lee ; that if General 
Sheridan decided to continue the fighting in the face of 
the flag of truce, the responsibility for the blood shed 
would be his and not mine. 

In a short time thereafter a white flag was seen ap- 
proaching. Under it was Philip Sheridan, accompanied 


by a mounted escort almost as large as one of Fitz Lee's 
regiments. Sheridan was mounted on an enormous 
horse, a very handsome animal. He rode in front of 
the escort, and an orderly carrying the flag rode beside 
him. Around me at the time were my faithful sharp- 
shooters, and as General Sheridan and his escort came 
within easy range of the rifles, a half-witted fellow raised 
his gun as if to fire. I ordered him to lower his gun, 
and explained that he must not fire on a flag of truce. 
He did not obey my order cheerfully, but held his rifle 
in position to be quickly thrown to his shoulder. In 
fact, he was again in the act of raising his gun to fire at 
Sheridan, when I caught the gun and said to him, with 
emphasis, that he must not shoot men under flag of 
truce. He at once protested: "Well, general, let him 
stay on his own side." 

I did not tell General Sheridan of his narrow escape. 
Had he known the facts, — that this weak-minded but 
strong-hearted Confederate private was one of the dead- 
liest of marksmen, — he probably would have realized that 
I had saved his life. 

Meantime another member of my staff, Major R. W. 
Hunter of Virginia, had ridden off with General Custer, 
who asked to be guided to Longstreet's position. As 
General Sheridan, with the flag of truce, came nearer, I 
rode out to meet him. Between General Sheridan and 
myself occurred another controversy very similar to the 
one I had had previously with General Custer. No mes- 
sage from General Grant in reference to the truce between 
the commanders-in-chief had reached General Sheridan. 
It had miscarried. But upon my exhibiting to him the 
note from Lee, he at once proposed that the firing cease 
and that our respective lines be withdrawn to certain 
positions, while we waited further intelligence from the 
commanders of the two armies. Our respective staff 
officers were despatched to inaugurate this temporary 


armistice, and Sheridan and I dismounted and sat to- 
gether on the ground. 

Quickly the firing was stopped and silence reigned on 
the field. But I had forgotten the brigade which I had 
sent far oft' to my left to check the movement of Union 
cavalry, and as General Sheridan and I sat and con- 
versed, a sudden roll of musketry was heard from that 
quarter. General Sheridan sprang to his feet and 
fiercely asked : " What does that mean, sir ! " I replied : 
" It is my fault, general. I had forgotten that brigade. 
But let me stop the firing first, and then I will explain." 

I called for a member of my staff to ride with all speed 
to that brigade. None of my staff was there. They 
had not returned from executing my previous orders. 
General Sheridan proposed to lend me one of his staff. 
I accepted the offer ; and it so happened that a Union 
officer, Captain Vanderbilt Allen, bore the last order to 
my troops, directing them to cease firing, thus practically 
ending the four years of battle for Southern indepen- 
dence. It was necessary, however, to protect Captain 
Allen from the fire of my men or from their demand for 
his surrender. For this purpose I sent with him as guide 
and protector one of my ragged privates. That private 
had belonged to the old Stonewall Brigade. 

I had never seen General Sheridan before, nor received 
from those who knew him any definite impressions of 
him as man or soldier. I had seen something of his work 
in the latter capacity during the campaigns in the Valley 
of Virginia. His destruction of barns and mills and 
farming implements impressed me as in conflict with 
the laws of war and inconsistent with the enlightened, 
Christian sentiment of the age, and had prepared me in 
a measure for his somewhat brusque manners. Truth 
demands that I say of General Sheridan that his style of 
conversation and general bearing, while never discour- 
teous, were far less agreeable and pleasing than those of 


any other officer of the Union army whom it was my 
fortune to meet. I do not recall a word he said which I 
could regard as in any degree offensive, but there was an 
absence of that delicacy and consideration which was 
exhibited by other Union officers. 

General Sheridan began the conversation after we 
had dismounted by saying, in substance : " We have met 
before, I believe, at Winchester and Cedar Creek in the 

I replied that I was there, and he continued : " I had 
the pleasure of receiving some artillery from your Gov- 
ernment, consigned to me through your commander, 
General Early." 

He referred, of course, to the piece on which the Con- 
federate wag had painted in white letters the words 
given in a former chapter. There was nothing offensive 
in that ; but I thought there was in his manner a slight 
tinge of exultation which was not altogether pleasing, 
and I replied : 

" That is true ; and I have this morning received from 
your government artillery consigned to me through 
General Sheridan." 

He evidently did not know that within the previous 
hour we had captured some of his artillery, and he was 
reluctant to believe it. 

The meeting of Lee and Grant, and the impressive 
formalities which followed, put an end to the interview, 
and we parted without the slightest breach of strict mili- 
tary courtesy. 



Appomattox— 25,000 men surrender— Only 8000 able to bear arms- 
Uniform courtesy of the victorious Federals — A salute for the 
vanquished — What Lincoln might have done — General Sherman's 
liberal terms to Johnston— An estimate of General Lee and Gen- 
eral Grant— The war and the reunited country. 

GENERAL LONGSTREET'S forces and mine at Ap- 
pomattox, numbered, together, less than 8000 men ; 
but every man able to bear arms was still resolute and 
ready for battle. There were present three times that 
many enrolled Confederates; but two thirds of them 
were so enfeebled by hunger, so wasted by sickness, and 
so foot-sore from constant marching that it was difficult 
for them to keep up with the army. They were wholly 
unfit for duty. It is important to note this fact as explain- 
ing the great difference in the number of those who 
fought and those who were to be fed. At the final meet- 
ing between General Lee and General Grant rations were 
ordered by General Grant for 25,000 Confederates. 

Marked consideration and courtesy were exhibited at 
Appomattox by the victorious Federals, from the com- 
manding generals to the privates in the ranks. General 
Meade, who had known General Lee in the old army, 
paid, after the surrender, an unofficial visit to the Con- 
federate chieftain. After cordial salutations, General 
Lee said playfully to his former comrade in arms that 
years were telling upon him. General Meade, who had 



fought Lee at Gettysburg and in many subsequent 
battles, made the strikingly gracious and magnanimous 
answer : " Not years, but General Lee himself has made 
me gray." 

Some of the scenes on the field, immediately after the 
cessation of hostilities and prior to the formal surrender, 
illustrate the same magnanimous spirit, and were 
peculiarly impressive and thrilling. As my command, 
in worn-out shoes and ragged uniforms, but with proud 
mien, moved to the designated point to stack their arms 
and surrender their cherished battle-flags, they challenged 
the admiration of the brave victors. One of the knight- 
liest soldiers of the Federal army, General Joshua L. 
Chamberlain of Maine, who afterward served with dis- 
tinction as governor of his State, called his troops into 
line, and as my men marched in front of them, the 
veterans in blue gave a soldierly salute to those 
vanquished heroes — a token of respect from Americans 
to Americans, a final and fitting tribute from Northern 
to Southern chivalry. 

General Chamberlain describes this incident in the 
following words : 

At the sound of that machine-like snap of arms, General 
Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and in- 
stantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled 
his horse, facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that 
the animal slightly reared, and, as he wheeled, horse and rider 
made one motion, the horse's head swung down with a graceful 
bow, and General Gordon dropped his sword-point to his toe in 

By word of mouth the general sent back orders to the rear 
that his own troops take the same position of the manual in the 
march past as did our line. That was done, and a truly im- 
posing sight was the mutual salutation and farewell. 

Bayonets were affixed to muskets, arms stacked, and car- 
tridge-boxes unslung and hung upon the stacks. Then, slowly 


and with a reluctance that was appealingly pathetic, the torn 
and tattered battle-flags were either leaned against the stacks 
or laid upon the ground. The emotion of the conquered 
soldiery was really sad to witness. Some of the men who had 
carried and followed those ragged standards through the four 
long years of strife rushed, regardless of all discipline, from 
the ranks, bent about their old flags, and pressed them to their 

And it can well be imagined, too, that there was no lack of 
emotion on our side, but the Union men were held steady in 
their lines, without the least show of demonstration by word or 
by motion. There was, though, a twitching of the muscles of 
their faces, and, be it said, their battle-bronzed cheeks were not 
altogether dry. Our men felt the import of the occasion, and 
realized fully how they would have been affected if defeat and 
surrender had been their lot after such a fearful struggle. x 

When the proud and sensitive sons of Dixie came to a 
full realization of the truth that the Confederacy was 
overthrown and their leader had been compelled to 
surrender his once invincible army, they could no longer 
control their emotions, and tears ran like water down 
their shrunken faces. The flags which they still carried 
were objects of undisguised affection. These Southern 
banners had gone down before overwhelming numbers ; 
and torn by shells, riddled by bullets, and laden with the 
powder and smoke of battle, they aroused intense 
emotion in the men who had so often followed them to 
victory. Yielding to overpowering sentiment, these 
high-mettled men began to tear the flags from the staffs 
and hide them in their bosoms, as they wet them with 
burning tears. 

The Confederate officers faithfully endeavored to check 
this exhibition of loyalty and love for the old flags. A 
great majority of them were duly surrendered; but 
many were secretly carried by devoted veterans to their 

iNew York "Times," May 4, 1901. 


homes, and will be cherished forever as honored heir- 

There was nothing unnatural or censurable in all this. 
The Confederates who clung to those pieces of battered 
bunting knew they would never again wave as martial 
ensigns above embattled hosts ; but they wanted to keep 
them, just as they wanted to keep the old canteen with 
a bullet-hole through it, or the rusty gray jacket that 
had been torn by canister. They loved those flags, and 
will love them forever, as mementoes of the unparalleled 
struggle. They cherish them because they represent 
the consecration and courage not only of Lee's army 
but of all the Southern armies, because they symbolize 
the bloodshed and the glory of nearly a thousand battles. 

Some narrow but very good and patriotic people 
object to this expression of Southern sentiment. It was 
not so, however, with William McKinley, that typical 
American, who, while living and while dying, exhibited 
in their fulness and strength the virtues of a true and 
lofty manhood. That chivalric Union soldier, far-see- 
ing statesman, and truly great President saw in this 
Southern fidelity to past memories the surest pledge of 
loyalty to future duties. William McKinley fought as 
bravely as the bravest on the Union side; but he was 
broad enough to recognize in his Southern countrymen 
a loyal adherence to the great fundamental truths to 
which both sides were devoted. He was too wise and 
too just to doubt the South's fealty to the Constitution 
or to the doctrines of the Declaration of Independence ; 
for Madison was father of the one and Jefferson of the 
other. He was great enough to trust implicitly the 
South's renewed allegiance to the Union and its flag ; for 
hers was the most liberal hand in studding its field with 
stars. He did not hesitate to trust Southern pluck 
and patriotism to uphold the honor of the country and 
give liberty to Cuba ; for he remembered Washington 


and his rebels in the Revolution, Jackson and his 
Southern volunteers at New Orleans ; Zachary Taylor 
and his Louisianians, Clay and his Kentuckians, Butler 
and his South Carolinians, and Davis and his Mississip- 
pians in Mexico. 

The heartstrings of the mother, woven around the 
grave of her lost child, will never be severed while she 
lives; but does that hinder the continued flow of ma- 
ternal devotion to those who are left her f The South's 
affections are bound, with links that cannot be broken, 
around the graves of her sons who fell in her defence, 
and to the mementoes and memories of the great 
struggle; but does that fact lessen her loyalty to the 
proud emblem of a reunited country? Does her un- 
paralleled defence of the now dead Confederacy argue 
less readiness to battle for this ever-living Republic, 
in the making and the administering of which she bore 
so conspicuous a part 1 

If those unhappy patriots who find a scarecrow in 
every faded, riddled Confederate flag would delve deeper 
into the philosophy of human nature, or rise higher, — say 
to the plane on which McKinley stood, — they would be 
better satisfied with their Southern countrymen, with 
Southern sentiment, with the breadth and strength of 
the unobtrusive but sincere Southern patriotism. They 
would see that man is so constituted — the immutable 
laws of our being are such — that to stifle the sentiment 
and extinguish the hallowed memories of a people is to 
destroy their manhood. 

During these last scenes at Appomattox some of the 
Confederates were so depressed in spirit, so filled with 
apprehensions as to the policy to be adopted by the civil 
authorities at Washington, that the future seemed to 
them shrouded in gloom. They knew that burnt homes 
and fenceless farms, poverty and ashes, would greet them 
on their return from the war. Even if the administration 


at Washington should be friendly, they did not believe 
that the Southern States could recover in half a century 
from the chaotic condition in which the war had left 
them. The situation was enough to daunt the most 
hopeful and appall the stoutest hearts. "What are we 
to do 1 How are we to begin life again ? " they asked. 
" Every dollar of our circulating medium has been ren- 
dered worthless. Gur banks and rich men have no 
money. The commodities and personal property which 
formerly gave us credit have been destroyed. The 
Northern banks and money-lenders will not take as 
security our lands, denuded of houses and without ani- 
mals and implements for their cultivation. The railroads 
are torn up or the tracks are worn out. The negroes are 
freed and may refuse to work. Besides, what assurance 
can we have of law and order and the safety of our fami- 
lies with four million slaves suddenly emancipated in 
the midst of us and the restraints to which they have 
been accustomed entirely removed ? " 

To many intelligent soldiers and some of the officers 
the conditions were so discouraging, the gloom so im- 
penetrable, that they seriously discussed the advisability 
of leaving the country and beginning life anew in some 
other land. 

While recognizing the dire extremity which confronted 
us, I was inclined to take a more hopeful view of the 
future. I therefore spoke to the Southern soldiers on 
the field at Appomattox, in order to check as best I 
could their disposition to leave the country, and to 
counteract, if possible, the paralyzing effect of the over- 
whelming discouragements which met them on every 

As we reached the designated point, the arms were 
stacked and the battle-flags were folded. Those sad and 
suffering men, many of them weeping as they saw the 
old banners laid upon the stacked guns like trappings on 


the coffin of their dead hopes, at once gathered in com- 
pact mass aronnd me. Sitting on my horse in the midst 
of them, I spoke to them for the last time as their com- 
mander. In all my past life I had never undertaken to 
speak where my own emotions were so literally over- 
whelming. I counselled such course of action as I 
believed most conducive to the welfare of the South 
and of the whole country. I told them of my own grief, 
which almost stifled utterance, and that I realized most 
keenly the sorrow that was breaking their hearts, and 
appreciated fully the countless and stupendous barriers 
across the paths they were to tread. 

Reminding them of the benign Southern climate, of 
the fertility of their lands, of the vastly increased de- 
mand for the South's great staple and the high prices 
paid for it, I offered these facts as legitimate bases of 
hope and encouragement. I said to them that through 
the rifts in the clouds then above us I could see the hand 
of Almighty God stretched out to help us in the impend- 
ing battle with adversity ; that He would guide us in 
the gloom, and bless every manly effort to bring back to 
desolated homes the sunshine and comforts of former 
years. I told them the principles for which they had so 
grandly fought and uncomplainingly suffered were not 
lost,— could not be lost,— for they were the principles on 
which the Fathers had built the Republic, and that the 
very throne of Jehovah was pledged that truth should 
triumph and liberty live. As to the thought of their 
leaving the country, that must be abandoned. It was 
their duty as patriots to remain and work for the recu- 
peration of our stricken section with the same courage, 
energy, and devotion with which they had fought for her 
in war. I urged them to enter cheerfully and hopefully 
upon the tasks imposed by the fortunes of war, obeying 
the laws, and giving, as I knew they would, the same 
loyal support to the general Government which they had 


yielded to the Confederacy. I closed with a prophecy 
that passion would speedily die, and that the brave and 
magnanimous soldiers of the Union army, when dis- 
banded and scattered among the people, would become 
promoters of sectional peace and fraternity. 

That prophecy would have been speedily fulfilled but 
for the calamitous fate that befell the country in the 
death of President Lincoln ; and even in spite of that 
great misfortune, we should have much sooner reached 
the era of good- will and sectional concord if the spirit of 
the soldiers who did the fighting had animated the 
civilians who did the talking. 

As I began to speak from my horse, large numbers of 
Union soldiers came near to hear what I had to say, 
giving me a rather queerly mixed audience. The Hon. 
Elihu Washburne, afterward United States Minister to 
France, the close friend of both President Lincoln and 
General Grant, was present at the surrender, as the 
guest of the Union commander. He either heard this 
parting speech or else its substance was reported to him. 
As soon as the formalities were ended, he made himself 
known to me, and in a most gracious manner expressed 
his pleasure at the general trend of my remarks. He 
assured me that the South would receive generous treat- 
ment at the hands of the general Government. My 
special object in referring to Mr. Washburne in this 
connection is to leave on record an emphatic statement 
made by him which greatly encouraged me. I can never 
forget his laconic answer to my inquiry : " Why do you 
think, Mr. Washburne, that the South will be generously 
dealt with by the Government f " " Because Abraham 
Lincoln is at its head," was his reply. 

I knew something of Mr. Lincoln's past history, of his 
lifelong hostility to slavery, of his Emancipation Procla- 
mation and vigorous prosecution of the war ; but I had 
no knowledge whatever of any kindly sentiment enter- 


tained by him toward the Southern people. The em- 
phatic words of Mr. Washburne, his intimate friend and 
counsellor, greatly interested me. I was with Mr. Wash- 
burne for several succeeding days — we rode on horse- 
back together from Appomattox back toward Peters- 
burg ; and his description of Mr. Lincoln's character, of 
his genial and philanthropic nature, accompanied with 
illustrative anecdotes, was not only extremely entertain- 
ing, but was to me a revelation. He supported his 
declaration as to Mr. Lincoln's kindly sentiments by 
giving an elaborate and detailed account of his meeting 
with our commissioners at Hampton Roads. He ex- 
pressed the opinion that the President went to that 
meeting with the fixed purpose of ending the war by 
granting the most liberal terms, provided the Southern 
commissioners acquiesced in the sine qua non — the re- 
storation of the Union. 

We parted at Petersburg, and among the last things 
he enjoined was faith in the kindly purposes of Abraham 
Lincoln in reference to the Southern people. Mr. Wash- 
burne said that the President would recommend to 
Congress such legislation as in his opinion would pro- 
mote the prosperity of the South. He was emphatic in 
his declaration that Mr. Lincoln desired only the restora- 
tion of the Union — that even the abolition of slavery 
was secondary to this prime object. He stated that the 
President had declared that if he could restore the 
Union without abolition, he would gladly do it ; if he 
could save the Union by partial abolition of slavery, he 
would do it that way ; but that if it became necessary to 
abolish slavery entirely in order to save the Union, then 
slavery would be abolished : that as his great object had 
been achieved by the surrender of Lee's army, it would 
speedily be known to the Southern people that the 
President was deeply concerned for their welfare, that 
there would be no prosecutions and no discriminations, 


but that the State governments would be promptly 
recognized, and every effort made to help the Southern 
people. These impressive assurances were adding strength 
to my hopes when the whole country was shocked by 
the assassination of the President. 

General Gibbon, General Griffin, and General Merritt 
were appointed by General Grant to meet Generals Pen- 
dleton, Longstreet, and myself, appointed by General Lee. 
The special duty which devolved on these six officers 
was the discussion and drafting of all details to carry 
out the formal surrender, according to the general terms 
agreed upon by the commanders-in-chief. In all our 
intercourse with those three Union officers I can recall 
no expression or word that could possibly wound the 
sensibility of a Confederate. Rejoiced as they naturally 
were at the termination of the long and costly struggle, 
and at the ultimate triumph of the Union cause, they 
scrupulously avoided allusions to battles in which the 
Federal armies had been victors, and endeavored rather 
to direct conversation to engagements in which the 
Union forces had been vanquished. Indeed, Confederate 
officers generally observed and commented upon this 
spirit, which at that time seemed to actuate the privates 
as well as the officers of the victorious army. 

As the Confederates were taking leave of Appomattox, 
and about to begin their long and dreary tramp home- 
ward, many of the Union men bade them cordial fare- 
well. One of Grant's men said good-naturedly to one of 
Lee's veterans : 

" Well, Johnny, I guess you fellows will go home now 
to stay." 

The tired and tried Confederate, who did not clearly 
understand the spirit in which these playful words were 
spoken, and who was not at the moment in the best 
mood for badinage, replied : 

" Look here, Yank ; you guess, do you, that we fellows 


are going home to stay ? Maybe we are. But don't be 
giving us any of your impudence. If you do, we '11 come 
back and lick you again." 

Probably in no military organization that ever existed 
were there such cordial relations between officers and 
private soldiers as in the Confederate army. This was 
due, doubtless, to the fact that in our ranks there were 
lawyers, teachers, bankers, merchants, planters, college 
professors, and students who afterward became chief 
justices, governors, and occupants of the highest public 
stations. Since the war some of these privates have 
told with great relish of the old farmer near Appomat- 
tox who decided to give employment, after the surrender, 
to any of Lee's veterans who might wish to work a few 
days for food and small wages. He divided the Con- 
federate employes into squads according to the re- 
spective ranks held by them in the army. He was 
uneducated, but entirely loyal to the Southern cause. 
A neighbor inquired of him as to the different squads : 

" Who are those men working over there ? " 

" Them is privates, sir, of Lee's army." 

" Well, how do they work? " 

" Very fine, sir ; first-rate workers." 

" Who are those in the second group f " 

" Them is lieutenants and captains, and they works 
fairly well, but not as good workers as the privates." 

" I see you have a third squad: who are they? " 

" Them is colonels." 

" Well, what about the colonels ? How do they 

" Now, neighbor, you '11 never hear me say one word 
ag'in' any man who fit in the Southern army ; but I ain't 
a-gwine to hire no generals." 

The paroles issued to the Confederates were carefully 
examined by the possessors, and elicited a great variety 
of comment. Each man's parole bore his name and the 


name of his company and regiment, and recorded his 
pledge to fight no more until he was regularly exchanged. 
A few hoped for an early exchange and release from this 
pledge, that they might continue the struggle with some 
organized force, operating in a different section of 
the Confederacy. They were looking hopefully to the 
Trans-Mississippi, where, even after the surrender of Lee 
and Joe Johnston and Richard Taylor east of the Mis- 
sissippi, Generals Kirby Smith, Magruder, and Forney, 
with Simon Bolivar Buckner as chief of staff, were still 
appealing to Confederates to "stand to their colors." 
That gallant little army of the Trans-Mississippi had 
fought many desperate battles under such leaders as 
McCulloch, Mcintosh, Ross, Green, Maxey, Waul, Price, 
Yan Dorn, Pike, Walker, Shelby, and W. L. Cabell, of 
whom General Marmaduke wrote : " The elan and chiv- 
alrous bearing of Cabell inspired all who looked upon 
him " ; and these few unyielding spirits at Appomattox 
were still panting for continued combat in the ranks of 
those unsurrendered forces beyond the great Father 
of Waters. The more thoughtful, however, knew that 
the war was over. They carefully preserved their 
paroles, and were as proud of them as a young graduate 
is of his diploma, because these strips of paper furnished 
official proof of the fact that they were in the fight to 
the last. This fact they transmit as a priceless legacy 
to their children. 

When I returned to Petersburg from Appomattox, 
I found Mrs. Gordon rapidly recovering, and as soon as 
she was able to travel, in company with Captain James 
M. Pace of my staff and his little family, who had joined 
him, we began our arduous trip homeward, over broken 
railroads and in such dilapidated conveyances as had 
been left in the track of the armies. In Petersburg 
it was impossible to secure among the recently emanci- 
pated negroes any one willing to accompany us as nurse 


for our child. This fact imposed upon me the necessity 
of continuing for a time my command of infantry in 
arms — a situation more trying to me in some respects 
than the one from which I had just been relieved by 
General Grant at Appomattox. 

The generous terms of surrender given to Lee by 
Grant were exceeded in liberality by those which W. T. 
Sherman offered to Joseph E. Johnston in North Caro- 
lina. In the memorandum of agreement between Gen- 
erals Sherman and Johnston (April 18, 1865) occur the 
following items : 

" The Confederate armies now in existence to be dis- 
banded and conducted to their State capitals, there to 
deposit their arms and public property in the State 
arsenals," etc. The President of the United States was 
to recognize the "several State governments on their 
officers and legislatures taking the oaths prescribed by 
the Constitution of the United States." The Federal 
courts were to be reestablished in the Southern States, 
the people of the South were to be guaranteed their 
political rights, and rights of person and property, with a 
general amnesty. Briefly analyzed, these liberal terms 
meant that, with the exception of slavery (nothing was 
said on that subject), the Southern States and people 
were instantly to resume the relations to the general 
Government which they had occupied before the war 
began, and, instead of surrendering their arms, were to 
deposit them in State arsenals for ready use in sup- 
pressing riots, enforcing law, and protecting homes and 

These terms of surrender proposed by General Sher- 
man reveal a spirit in extreme contrast to that which he 
showed toward the Southern people in his unobstructed 
march to the sea. In his agreement with General John- 
ston his magnanimity is scarcely paralleled by that of 
any victorious commander whereas in his long general 


orders for the conduct of his troops on their travel from 
demolished Atlanta to his goal by the sea, fully one half 
of his words are directions for systematic "foraging," 
destruction of " mills, houses, cotton-gins," etc., and for 
spreading " a devastation more or less relentless " accord- 
ing to the hostility shown by different localities on the 
line of his march. It is due to General Sherman to say 
that he had his peculiar ideas of waging war and making 
it " hell," but when it was over he declared, " It is our 
solemn duty to protect and not to plunder." 

The terms proposed by him to General Johnston were 
so liberal that they were promptly rejected by the civil 
authorities at Washington. Mr. Lincoln was dead and 
Andrew Johnson was President; Mr. Stanton was Sec- 
retary of War, and General Halleck ranked General Sher- 
man in the field. This vindictive trio— Johnson, Stanton, 
and Halleck — rejected General Sherman's agreement with 
General Johnston ; and Stanton and Halleck sought to 
humiliate Sherman and, as he declared, to insult him. In 
his " Memoirs " General Sherman writes : " To say that 
I was angry at the tone and substance of these bulletins 
of the War Department would hardly express my feel- 
ings. I was outraged beyond measure, and was resolved 
to resent the insult, cost what it might " ; and he did resent 
it in the most emphatic manner. In regard to the absurd 
report that Mr. Davis had carried out of Richmond vast 
sums of money, General Sherman writes : " The thirteen 
millions of treasure with which Jeff Davis was to corrupt 
our armies and buy his escape dwindled down to the 
contents of a hand- valise." 

A great Frenchman pronounced the French Revolution 
an " about-face of the universe." The meeting of Lee 
and Grant at Appomattox was the momentous epoch of 
the century. It marked greater changes, uprooted a 
grander and nobler civilization, and, in the emancipation 
of one race and the impoverishment of another, it in- 


volved vaster consequences than had ever followed the 
fall of a dynasty or the wreck of an empire. It will 
stand in history as the Brook Kedron over which the 
Southern people passed to their Gethsemane; where 
every landscape was marred by ruins; where every 
breath of air was a lament and every home a house of 

The magnanimity exhibited at Appomattox justifies 
me in recording here my conviction that, had it been 
possible for General Grant and his soldiers to foresee the 
bloody sweat which through ten successive years was 
wrung from Southern brows, the whole Union army 
would then and there have resolved to combat all un- 
friendly legislation. Or, later, if Booth's bullet had not 
terminated the life filled with " charity to all and malice 
toward none," President Lincoln's benign purposes, 
seconded by the great-hearted among our Northern 
countrymen, would have saved the South from those 
caricatures of government which cursed and crushed 

In looking back now over that valley of death — the 
period of reconstruction, — its waste and its woe, it 
is hard to realize that the worn and impoverished Con- 
federates were able to go through it. The risen South 
of to-day is a memorial of the same patience, endurance, 
and valor which immortalized the four years' struggle 
for Southern independence. 

All accounts agree that when the two great command- 
ers met in the little brick house at Appomattox, they 
presented a contrast that was unique and strikingly 
picturesque. A stranger, unacquainted with the situ- 
ation, would have selected Lee for the conqueror and 
Grant for the vanquished hero. Prompted by a sincere 
respect for the illustrious Federal chieftain, General Lee 
was dressed in his best uniform, and appeared at the 
place of conference in faultless military attire. General 


Grant, on the other hand, had received, while on his lines 
among his soldiers, General Lee's reply to his last note. 
"Without returning to headquarters for his dress uni- 
form, the Union commander rode at once to the point 
of meeting, wearing his fatigue suit, his cavalry boots 
begrimed with Virginia mud, and his plain blue overcoat 
concealing all insignia of rank. I never heard General 
Grant say so, but his characteristic modesty and mag- 
nanimity, with which I became familiar in after years, 
lead me to believe that consideration for General Lee 
prompted this absence of ostentation. 

Probably nothing I can say of these illustrious sol- 
diers will add to the fame of either. I am conscious of 
my inability to give a clear conception of their distin- 
guishing and dissimilar but altogether admirable charac- 
teristics. Nevertheless, as the follower and friend of 
Lee and the sincere admirer of Grant, I desire to place 
on record in this concluding chapter my estimate of 
both these representative Americans. 

Unless it be Washington, there is no military chieftain 
of the past to whom Lee can be justly likened, either in 
attributes of character or in the impress for good made 
upon the age in which he lived. Those who knew him 
best and studied him most have agreed that he was 
unlike any of the great captains of history. In his 
entire public career there was a singular absence of self- 
seeking. Otherwise he would have listened to the woo- 
ings of ambition when debating the course he should 
take at the beginning of our sectional conflict. He knew 
that he could hold any position he might wish in the 
armies of the Union. Not only by General Scott, the 
commander-in-chief, but by his brother officers and the 
civil authorities, Lee was recognized as the foremost sol- 
dier in the United States army. He knew, for he so 
declared, that the South's chances for success, except 
through foreign intervention, were far from encouraging. 


What would Caesar or Frederick or Napoleon have done ? 
Deaf to every suggestion of a duty whose only promised 
reward was an approving conscience in ultimate defeat, 
allured by the prospect of leading armies with over- 
whelming numbers and backed by limitless resources, any 
one of these great captains would have eagerly grasped 
the tendered power. It was not so with Lee. Trained 
soldier that he was, he stood on the mountain-top of 
temptation, while before his imagination there passed the 
splendid pageant of conquering armies swayed by his 
word of command ; and he was unmoved by it. Gradu- 
ated at West Point, where he subsequently served as 
perhaps its most honored superintendent; proud of his 
profession, near the head of which he stood ; devoted to 
the Union and its emblematic flag, which he long had fol- 
lowed ; revered by the army, to the command of which he 
would have been invited — he calmly abandoned them all 
to lead the forlorn hope of his people, impelled by his con- 
viction that their cause was just. Turning his back upon 
ambition, putting selfish considerations behind him, like 
George Washington in the old Eevolution, he threw him- 
self and all his interests into an unequal struggle for 
separate government. When John Adams of Massa- 
chusetts declared that, sink or swim, survive or perish, 
he gave his heart and hand to the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, he stood on precisely the same moral plane 
on which Eobert E. Lee stood from the beginning to the 
end of the war. As the north star to the sailor, so was 
duty to this self-denying soldier. Having decided that 
in the impending and to him unwelcome conflict his 
place was with his people, he did not stop to consider 
the cost. He resolved to do his best ; and in estimating 
now the relative resources and numbers, it cannot be 
denied that he did more than any leader has ever accom- 
plished under similar conditions. And when the end 
came and he realized that Appomattox was the grave of 


his people's hopes, he regretted that Providence had not 
willed that his own life should end there also. He not 
only said in substance, to Colonel Venable of his staff 
and to others, that he would rather die than surrender 
the cause, but he said to me on that fatal morning that 
he was sorry he had not fallen in one of the last battles. 
Yet no man who saw him at Appomattox could detect 
the slightest wavering in his marvellous self-poise or 
any lowering of his lofty bearing. Only for a fleeting 
moment did he lose complete self-control. As he rode 
back from the McLean house to his bivouac, his weeping 
men crowded around him ; and as they assured him in 
broken voices of their confidence and love, his emotions 
momentarily overmastered him, and his wet cheeks told 
of the sorrow which his words could not express. 
Throughout that crucial test at Appomattox he was the 
impersonation of every manly virtue, of all that is great 
and true and brave — the fittest representative of his own 
sublimely beautiful adage that human virtue should 
always equal human calamity. 

The ancient Romans and Greeks deified after death 
their heroes who possessed any one of the great virtues, 
all of which were harmoniously blended in this great 
Southerner. It required, however, neither his removal 
by death nor the hallowing influences of distance or time 
to consign him to the Pantheon of Immortals. It was 
more literally true of him than of any man I ever knew, 
among those whom the world honors, that distance was 
not needed to enhance his greatness. 

A distinguished Georgian, the Hon. Benjamin H. Hill, 
truthfully declared that Lee was Caesar without his 
crimes, Bonaparte without his ambition, and George 
Washington without his crown of success ; and it is my 
firm conviction that when his campaigns and his char- 
acter are both understood, such will be the verdict of 

General Grant's bearing at Appomattox, his acts and 


his words, did much to alleviate the anguish inseparable 
from such an ordeal. The tenor of his formal notes, the 
terms granted at the appointed meeting, the prompt and 
cordial manner in which he acquiesced in each and 
every suggestion made by the Southern commander, left 
upon the minds of Confederates an ineffaceable im- 
pression. In looking back now over the intervening 
years, I am glad that I have never been tempted, in 
the heat of political contests, even while the South was 
enduring the agony of the carpet-baggers' rule, to utter 
one word of bitterness against that great and magnani- 
mous Union soldier. Before the meeting at Appomattox 
the Confederates were decidedly prejudiced against 
General Grant, chiefly because of his refusal to exchange 
prisoners and thus relieve from unspeakable suffering 
the thousands of incarcerated men of both armies. On 
this account Southern men expected from him cold 
austerity rather than soldierly sympathy. Their pre- 
vious conceptions of him, however, were totally changed 
when they learned that our officers were to retain their 
side-arms ; that both officers and privates were to keep 
their horses; that their paroles protected them from 
molestation on their homeward trip and in their peaceful 
pursuits, so long as they obeyed the laws ; and that in 
the prolonged official interview there was no trace of 
exultation at his triumph, but that he was in word and 
act the embodiment of manly modesty and soldierly 
magnanimity, and that from first to last he was evi- 
dently intent upon mitigating the bitterness of defeat 
and soothing to the utmost of his ability the lacerated 
sensibilities of his great antagonist. 

General Grant's own declaration, made many years 
after the war, that he felt " sad and depressed " as he 
rode to meet General Lee in the little village of Appo- 
mattox, is entirely consistent with every account given 
of his bearing at the surrender. 

It was reported at the time, and has since been con- 


firmed by Union officers who were present, that he 
positively refused to permit Union artillery to fire a 
salute in celebration of the victory over his own 
countrymen. The exhibitions of General Grant's mag- 
nanimity which I observed during my personal inter- 
course with him immediately after the war, later while 
he was President, and when he became a private citizen, 
are all consistent with the spirit manifested by him at 
the surrender of Lee's army. In his " Memoirs " he has 
given a quietus to that widely circulated romance that 
he returned to Lee his proffered sword. I do not doubt 
that he would have done so ; but there was no occasion 
for Lee's offering it, because in the terms agreed upon it 
was stipulated that the Confederate officers should retain 
their side-arms. 

During the imprisonment and vicarious punishment of 
the inflexible and stainless ex-President of the Con- 
federacy, both General Richard Taylor of Louisiana and 
I had repeated conferences with the general-in-chief of 
the United States army, in the hope of securing the 
release of the distinguished prisoner. After one of the 
visits of the gallant Louisianian to General Grant, Taylor 
told me of a conversation in reference to the probability 
of General Grant's becoming President. Taylor said 
that General Grant assured him, with evident sincerity, 
that he had no desire to be President, — that his tastes 
and training were those of a soldier, and that he was 
better fitted for the station he then held than for any 
civil office, — but that Taylor could rest assured, if the 
office of President ever came to him, he would endeavor 
to know no difference between the people of the different 
sections. The Southern people felt that they had cause 
to complain of President Grant for a lack of sympathy 
during those years when imported rulers misled credu- 
lous negroes and piled taxes to the point of confiscation 
in order to raise revenues which failed to find their way 


into State treasuries; but it must be remembered 
that General Grant was not a politician, and as the 
first civil office that came to him was the Presidency, 
he was naturally influenced by those whom he regarded 
as statesmen and whose long training in civil affairs 
seemed peculiarly to fit them for counsellors. 

General Grant was not endowed by nature with the 
impressive personality and soldierly bearing of Winfield 
Scott Hancock, nor with the peculiarly winning and 
magnetic presence of William McKinley — few men are ; 
but under a less attractive exterior he combined the 
strong qualities of both. There can be no doubt that 
Andrew Johnson, the infatuated zealot who came to the 
Presidency on the ill-fated martyrdom of Abraham Lin- 
coln, would have followed his threat to " make treason 
odious " by an order for the arrest and imprisonment of 
Lee and other Confederate leaders but for the stern man- 
date of Grant that, in spite of Johnson's vindictive pur- 
poses, the Southern soldier who held a parole should be 
protected to the last extremity. 

The strong and salutary characteristics of both Lee 
and Grant should live in history as an inspiration to 
coming generations. Posterity will find nobler and more 
wholesome incentives in their high attributes as men 
than in their brilliant careers as warriors. The lustre 
of a stainless life is more lasting than the fame of any 
soldier; and if General Lee's self-abnegation, his un- 
blemished purity, his triumph over alluring temptations, 
and his unwavering consecration to all life's duties do 
not lift him to the morally sublime and make him a fit 
ideal for young men to follow, then no human conduct can 
achieve such position. 

And the repeated manifestations of General Grant's 
truly great qualities— his innate modesty, his freedom 
from every trace of vain-glory or ostentation, his mag- 
nanimity in victory, his genuine sympathy for his brave 


and sensitive f oemen, and his inflexible resolve to protect 
paroled Confederates against any assault, and vindicate, 
at whatever cost, the sanctity of his pledge to the van- 
quished — will give him a place in history no less renowned 
and more to be. envied than that secured by his triumphs 
as a soldier or his honors as a civilian. The Christian 
invocation which came from his dying lips, on Mount 
McGregor, summoning the spirit of peace and unity and 
equality for all of his countrymen, made a fitting close to 
the life of this illustrious American. 

Scarcely less prominent in American annals than 
the record of these two lives, should stand a catalogue 
of the thrilling incidents which illustrate the nobler 
phase of soldier life so inadequately described in 
these reminiscences. The unseemly things which oc- 
curred in the great conflict between the States should be 
forgotten, or at least forgiven, and no longer permitted to 
disturb complete harmony between North and South. 
American youth in all sections should be taught to hold 
in perpetual remembrance all that was great and good on 
both sides ; to comprehend the inherited convictions for 
which saintly women suffered and patriotic men died ; 
to recognize the unparalleled carnage as proof of unri- 
valled courage; to appreciate the singular absence of 
personal animosity and the frequent manifestation be- 
tween those brave antagonists of a good-fellowship such 
as had never before been witnessed between hostile 
armies. It will be a glorious day for our country 
when all the children within its borders shall learn 
that the four years of fratricidal war between the North 
and the South was waged by neither with criminal or 
unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they 
conceived to be threatened rights and imperilled liberty ; 
that the issues which divided the sections were born 
when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in 
an ocean of fraternal blood. We shall then see that, 


under God's providence, every sheet of flame from the 
blazing rifles of the contending armies, every whizzing 
shell that tore through the forests at Shiloh and Chan- 
cellorsville, every cannon-shot that shook Chickamau- 
ga's hills or thundered around the heights of Gettysburg, 
and all the blood and the tears that were shed are 
yet to become contributions for the upbuilding of 
American manhood and for the future defence of Amer- 
ican freedom. The Christian Church received its bap- 
tism of pentecostal power as it emerged from the 
shadows of Calvary, and went forth to its world-wide 
work with greater unity and a diviner purpose. So the 
Republic, rising from its baptism of blood with a 
national life more robust, a national union more com- 
plete, and a national influence ever widening, shall go 
forever forward in its benign mission to humanity. 


Adams, General, hilled at Chickamauga, 

Akin, Colonel Warren, foresees his son's 

death, [62, 63 
Alexander, General, 135 ; Gettysburg, 165 
Alger, General R. A., 49 
Allen, Captain Vanderbilt, 441 
Altoona, defence of fort at, 77, 78 
Anderson, General, at Sailor's Creek, 429 
Antietam, 81-88 
Appomattox, 429, 436, 437; surrender of 

General Lee's army, 443 et seq. 
Archer, General, captured, 150 
Armistead, General, 158 ; Gettysburg, 166 
Avery, Colonel, 161 

Baird, General, at Chickamauga, 205, 206 
Baldwin, General, killed at Chickamauga, 

Banks, General N. P., 215, 330 
Barksdale, General, 163 
Barlow, General Francis C, wounded at 

Gettysburg, 151, 152 
Bate, General, 127; at Chickamauga, 207 
" Battle above the Clouds," 219 
Battle, General, at Fisher's Hill, 326 ; 

Cedar Creek, 354 ; quoted, 366 
Beasley, William, narrowly escapes cap- 
ture, 264-266 
Beatty, General, 209 
Beauregard, General, at Bull Run, 37, 38; 

succeeds General A. 8. Johnston, 125 
Bee, General, 71 ; death, 72 
Bell, Captain, at Seven Pines, 57 
Berry, General, 129 
Bethune, Billy, 219 
Black, Jere, 22 

Blair, Postmaster-General, 315 
"Bloody Angle," 272, 284-286, 289, 290 
Bosquet, quoted, 128 
Boteler, A. B., 303 
Boynton, General H. V., on Chickamauga, 

210, 211 ; quoted, 226 
Bragg. General Braxton, 126 ; offends 

General Breckinridge, 192, 193 ; evac- 

uates Chattanooga, 194-197 ; before 
Chickamauga, 200, 201; Chickamauga, 
201 et seq. ; reasons for not pursuing 
General Rosecrans, 213-217 ; Missionary 
Ridge, 224; Ringgold, 224 ; relieved, 225 ; 
New Market, 302 ; Winchester, 320-322, 

Brannan, General, at Chickamauga, 206, 

Breckinridge, John C, 28, 135; at Mur- 
freesboro, 192, 193; Chickamauga, 205, 
206, 207 

Breckinridge, eon of John C, captured, 

Breckinridge, Rev. Robert J., 28 

Brooke, Captain J. M., 122 

Brooke, Colonel, 163 

Brown, General, at Chickamauga, 207 

Brown, Joseph E., 5 

Brown's Gap, 329 

Brownlow, Parson, 33 

Buckland, 189 

Buckner, General, at Chickamauga, 202, 
208 ; appeals to Confederates, 454 

Buell, General, 209 

Bull Run, battle of, 37, 38; Confederate 
victories, 120 

Burnside, General, captures Fort Macon 
and Newbern, 122 ; defeated at Freder- 
icksburg, 124; Wilderness, May 6, 259, 
260 ; Spottsylvania, 273 

Butler, General Benjamin F., at New Or- 
leans, 121 ; his wooden leg, 129 

Butterworth, General Benjamin, anec- 
dote, 431 

Cabell, W. L., 454 

Campbell, Judge, 384 

Carlin, General, at Chickamauga, 203, 208 

Carter, Colonel Thomas H., at Cedar 
Creek, 341 ; quoted, 359 ; at Appomattox, 
436, 437 

Cedar Creek, 332 etseq.; causes of the Con- 
federate defeat, 354-363 ; defence of the 
Confederate soldiers, 363-372 




Chamberlain, General J. L., at surrender 
of Lee's army, 444 ; quoted, 444 

Chambersburg, 304 

Champion Hill, 183 

Chancellorsville, 95 etseq. 

Cheatham, General, 79 ; Chickamauga, 202, 
203, 205 

Chickahominy, 54-58 

Chickamauga, 198; compared with other 
great battles, 199 ; first day's battle, 201- 
204 ; night after the battle, 204, 205 ; sec- 
ond day's battle, 205-212 ; victory claimed 
by both sides, 210 ; comparative strength 
of the armies, 210 

Christian family, fatality, 375, 376 

Civil War, outbreak of, 13, 14 ; causes, 18- 

Clayton, Colonel, 178 

Cleburne, General Patrick, 126 ; death, 
126 ; at Chickamauga, 202, 205, 206 

Clift, Major M. H., 31 

Cobb, General, 135 

Cold Harbor, 295, 297, 298 

Colquitt, General Alfred Holt, 400 

Colquitt, General Peyton, at Chicka- 
mauga, 206 

Congress, frigate, surrenders to the Vir- 
ginia, 122 

Cook, General Philip, 411 

Cooper, H. S., 98 

Crittenden, General, at Chickamauga, 208 

Crook, General, 344 ; captured, 362 

Cross, Colonel, 163 

Croxton, General, 209 

Cumberland, sunk by the Virginia, 122 

Curtin, General, 104 

Curtis, General Newton M., 115, 116 

Cushing, Lieutenant, 166 

Custer, General, 439, 440 

Dabney, Major, 398 

Dana, C. A., quoted on Chickamauga, 210, 

Daniel, General, killed at Spottsylvania, 

Daniel, John W., 129; wounded, Wilder- 
ness, May 6, 250 

Davant, Colonel, captured at Spottsyl- 
vania, 287 

Davis, General, at Chickamauga, 208 

Davis, Jefferson, 14 ; on secession, 15 ; re- 
moves General J. E. Johnston from chief 
command, 127, 131-134; General Lee's 
eulogy, 393 

Deshler, General, at Chickamauga, 207 

Devil's Den, 162 

Douglas, Stephen A., 22 

Dupont, Commodore, 122 

Early, General, 100, 135, 146; at Gettys- 
burg, 153 ; loses redoubt near Rappa- 
hannock, 189, 190; Wilderness, May 6, 
255, 258-260 ; Lynchburg, 300 ; near Wash- 
ington, 314-316 ; in Shenandoah Valley, 
317; characteristics, 317, 318; anecdote, 
319 ;, Winchester, 319, 320, 325, 330; Fish- 
er's Hill, 326 ; after Fisher's Hill, 327; at 
Brown's Gap, 329, 330; reenforced by 
Kershaw, 330, 331 ; Cedar Creek, 332, 335, 
336, 342, 347, 354 et seq.; forces at Cedar 
Creek, 343 ; makes charges against his 
troops, 364 

Ebright, Colonel Aaron W., premonition 
of bis death, 61, 62 

Edwards, Major, 30 

Ericsson, Captain John, 122 

Essex, Earl of, 396 

Evans, General Clement A., 135; Wilder- 
ness, May 6, 249 ; wounded at Monocacy, 
312]; ascends Massanutten Mountain, 
336; at Cedar Creek, 338, 339, 347, 348; 
quoted, 361, 365; transferred to Peters- 
burg, 374 

Ewell, General, at Bull Bun, 38; eccen- 
tricity, 38, 39 ; anecdotes, 39-42, 129 ; with 
Lee, 135 ; Gettysburg, 153 et seq.; his 
wooden leg, 157 ; his romance, 157, 158 ; 
Wilderness, May 5, 237-239 ; May 6, 255 ; 
captured at Sailor's Creek, 429 

Fair Oaks. See Seven Pines 

Farnsworth, General, death at Gettys- 
burg, 170 

Farragut, Admiral, 121 

Faucette, W. F., his heroism, 114 

Faulkner, C. J., 303 

Fernandina, 122 

Field, General, 135 

Fisher's Hill, 326 

Five Forks, 417-419 

Forney, General, 454 

Forrest, General N. B., 127; at Chicka- 
mauga, 201-203 

Fort Curtis, 181 

Fort Donelson, 120 

Fort Henry, 120 

Fort Hindman, 181 

Fort Macon, 122 

Fort Pillow, 121 

Fort Ste.dman, 394 ; assault on, 400 et seq. 

Franklin, General, capture and escape, 

Freemantle, Colonel, quoted, 306, 307 

Fremont, General, 330 

Garnett, General, 158, 1£4 

George, , Confederate scout, stir- 



ring adventure, 424, 425 ; captures two 
Union spies, 425-427 

Getty, General, 344 

Gettysburg, 150 et seq. ; compared with 
Waterloo, 169, 170 

Ghiselin, medical director, quoted, 342 

Gibbon, General, 164, 452 

Gildersleeve, Professor B. A., 422 

Goggin, J. M., quoted, 367 

Gordon, Captain Augustus, at Seven 
Pines, 56, 58; death, 58, 64, 65 

Gordon, Major Eugene C, at Monocacy, 

Gordon, General J. B., kinsman of Gen- 
eral John B. Gordon, death, 152 

Gordon, General John B., 3 ; marriage, 3 ; 
first command, 3 el seq. ; elected major, 
13 ; reaches Virginia, 32 ; meets Andrew 
Johnson, 35 ; at General Grant's funeral, 
35 ; Bull Run, 38, 39 ; winter quarters in 
Virginia, 48-51 ; in a wreck, 52 ; retreats 
from Yorktown, 53; at Seven Pines, 56- 
58 ; brigade commander, 58 ; Malvern 
Hill, 73-75; at Antietam, 82-88; badly 
wounded, 89, 90 ; nursed by Mrs. Gordon, 
91 ; returns to the army, 92 ; brigade 
commander, 95; retakes fort on Marye's 
Heights, 100; famous war-horses, 101- 
104; inPennsylvania,140-146 ; atWrights- 
ville, 147-150; Gettysburg, 150 et seq.; 
leaves Gettysburg, 172 ; crosses the Po- 
tomac, 172, 173 ; in camp near Clark's 
Mountain, 229; Wilderness, battle of, 
May 5, 237-242 ; May 6, 243 et seq .; escapes 
capture by exciting night ride, 263-266 ; 
Spottsylvania, 272, 274-281, 284, 285; 
Lynchburg, 300 ; Monocacy, 309-313 ; near 
Washington, 314-316; Shenandoah Val- 
ley, 317; Winchester, 319-326; Fisher's 
Hill, 326 ; after Fisher's Hill, 327 ; plans 
attack on Sheridan from Massanutten 
Mountain, 333-335 ; Cedar Creek, 335-342, 
346-349; escape, 349-351; fatal halt at 
Cedar Creek, 354-363 ; defends the Con- 
federate soldiers, 363-372; after Cedar 
Creek, 372; transferred to Petersburg, 
374 ; at Petersburg, 376 et seq.; a gloomy 
Christmas, 379 ; consults with General 
Lee, 385-394 ; in the trenches at Peters- 
burg, 395-399; plans assault on Fort 
Stedman, 400-408 ; captures Fort Sted- 
man, 409, 410; necessary withdrawal 
from the fort, 411, 412 ; after Fort Sted- 
man, 415 ; retreats from Petersburg, 420, 
423, 424 ; captures Union spies, 425-428 ; 
ordered toward Appomattox, 428; at 
Appomattox, 429, 430; last council of 
war, 435; attempts to cut through 

Grant's lines, 436, 437 ; report to General 
Lee, 438 ; sends flag of truce to General 
Ord, 438 ; conference with General Cus- 
ter, 439 ; with General Sheridan, 440-442 ; 
surrenders at Appomattox, 443 et seq. ; 
speech to his soldiers, 448-450; confer- 
ence with Hon. Elihu Washburne, 450, 
451 ; at the formal surrender, 452 ; starts 
homeward, 454; estimate of General 
Lee, 458-460 ; of General Grant, 461-464 

Gordon, Mrs. John B., narrow escape in 
wreck, 52 ; at Seven Pines, 58, 59 ; nurses 
General Gordon, 91 ; follows General 
Gordon, 319 ; at Winchester, 320, 322, 323 ; 
in Petersburg, 423 ; starts homeward, 

Gordon, General William W., 32 

Gordon, Mrs. W. W., 32 

Govan, General, at Chickamauga, 202, 

Grady, Henry W., 81 

Granger, General Gordon, at Chicka- 
mauga, 205, 209 

Grant, General F. L\, 302 

Grant, General Ulysses S., quoted, 23 ; vic- 
tories, 125; takes Vicksburg, 177, 178, 
182-187 ; tunnel at Fort Hill, 183-185 ; dis- 
places General Rosecrans, 216 ; arrives 
at Chattanooga, 221, 223; Missionary 
Ridge, 223, 224; Wilderness, May 5, 236- 
242; May 6, 243 et seq. ; fails to dislodge 
Lee, 262 ; moves to Spottsylvania, 269, 
270 et seq. ; Spottsylvania, May 18, 289, 
290 ; after Spottsylvania, 290 et seq. ; let- 
ter to General Halleck, 292, 293 ; Cold 
Harbor, 298; respect for private prop- 
erty, 304, 306 ; at Petersburg, 376, 377, 
391, 422 ; Five Forks, 417 ; pursues Lee's 
army, 423 ; asks for surrender, 435 ; sur- 
render of Lee's army, 443 et seq. ; Gen- 
eral Gordon's estimate of, 461-464 

Graveyard Hill, 181 

Greeley, Horace, 22 

Green, General, 454 

Gregg, General, 171 ; Wilderness, May 6, 
257 ; captured at Appomattox, 430 

Griffin, General, 452 

Grimes, General Bryan, 338 ; quoted, 366 ; 
transferred to Petersburg, 374 

Hale, Major Daniel, killed at Spottsyl- 
vania, 281 

Halleck, General, 174, 175, 456 

Halstead, Murat, 226 

Hampton, 129, 135 

Hampton Roads, battle of ironclads at, 

Hancock, General, 35, 36 ; quoted on Get- 



tysburg, 156; wounded at Gettysburg, 
164; Wilderness, May 6, 256, 259; at 
Spottsylvania, 273 ; assault at Spottsyl- 
vania, 274-276; repulsed, 280; second 
assault, 289, 290 

Hanson, General, death at Murfreesboro, 

Haralson, Miss Fanny, marriage to Gen- 
eral John B. Gordon, 3. See Mrs. John 
B. Gordon 

Haralson, General Hugh A., 3 

Hardee, General, 127 

Harker, General, 209 

Harper's Ferry, 120 

Harris, Dr. Charles H., 375 

Hatcher's Run, 379 

Hathaway, Captain William A., death, 62 

Hazlett, Lieutenant, 163 

Healey, Private, 185 

Heg, General, at Chickamauga, 203 

Helena, 178, 179 

"' Hell's Half Acre," 289, 290 

Helm, General, killed at Chickamauga, 

Henderson, Colonel, 329 

Henry, Patrick, quoted, 345 

Heth, General, 135 ; wounded, 150 ; Gettys- 
burg, 164 ; anecdote, 416 

Hey ward, W. C, 17 

Hill, General A. P., loses four hundred 
men, 189; Wilderness, May 6, 256; ill 
health, 379 ; death at Five Forks, 418, 419 

Hill, Benjamin H., 14, 135; tribute to 
General Lee, 460 

Hill, General D. H., at Malvern Hill, 67, 
73 ; Antietam, 84 ; with Lee, 135 ; at 
Chickamauga, 205 

Hindman, General, at Chickamauga, 205, 

Hoke, General, 135 

Holmes, General, at Helena, 179 ; arrests 
General Shelby, 180 

Hood, General John B., 127, 128, 129 ; at 
Gettysburg, 162 ; Chickamauga, 207 

Hooker, General, at Lookout Mountain, 
97, 219-221 ; relieved of command, 124 

Hopkins, Rev. A. C, 367; quoted, 368 

" Hornet's Nest," 181 

Horses, famous, 101-104 

Horseshoe Ridge, 208, 209 

Hotchkiss, Captain, 333, 335; quoted, 355, 
361, 362, 363, 373 

Humphreys, General, at Gettysburg, 163 

Hunter, Hon. Andrew, 303 

Hunter, General, retreats from Lynch- 
burg, 300-303 

Hunter, Mr., 384 

Hunter, Hon. R. M. T., 10, 11, 301 

Hunter, Major R. W., 301, 333, 398, 440 ; 
quoted, 360 

Island Number Ten, 121 

Jackson, battle of, 182 

Jackson, General (Stonewall), origin of 
his sobriquet, 71 ; at Malvern Hill, 72, 73 ; 
at Bull Run, 71 ; character, 95, 98, 99 ; 
ability, 96 ; death, 96, 99 ; cautiousness, 
128 ; needed at Gettysburg, 154 ; and in 
the Wilderness, 260, 261; at Brown's 
Gap, 329, 330 

Jacksonville, 122 

Jacques, Colonel, 226 

Jenkins, General, killed, Wilderness, May 
6, 256 

"Joe Brown's pikes," 5 

Johnson, Andrew, 33 ; narrowness of, 34, 

Johnson, General Bradley T., 316; cap- 
tures General Franklin, 317 

Johnson, General Bushrod, at Chicka- 
mauga., 205 

Johnson, General Edward, 155, 164 ; at 
Spottsylvania, 274; captured, 275, 288; 
on General Hunter, 303 

Johnson, General Robert, Wilderness, 
May 6, 248, 249; Spottsylvania, 275; 
wounded, 276 

Johnson, General R. W., at Chickamauga, 

Johnston, General Albert Sidney, 125; 
death, 125 

Johnston, General Joseph E., at Bull Run, 
37; retreats from Yorktown, 52, 54; at 
Williamsburg, 54 ; removed from chief 
command, 127, 131-134; tries to relieve 
General Pemberton, 182 ; battle of Jack- 
son, 182; surrenders, 454, 455 ; receives 
liberal terms from General Sherman, 

Jones, Captain, 398 

Jones, General, 135 

Jones, Rev. J. William, D.D., quoted, 154, 
409, 410 

Jones, Thomas G., 112, 113, 277 f 352; bravery 
at Fort Stedman, 412 

Keifer, General J. Warren, quoted, 61, 62 
Kelley, General, captured, 362 
Kemper, General, 158, 164 
Kershaw, General, 135 ; at Chickamauga, 

205, 208; reenforces Early, 330, 331; 

captured at Sailor's Creek, 429 
King, General, at Chickamauga, 202 
Kinsey, Nellie, 32 
Kirkpatrick, Major, at Cedar Creek, 348 



Lacey, Rev. Dr., 96 

Lamar, Colonel, death, 378 

Lane, Rev. Charles, 106 

Law, General, at Chickamauga, 205 

Law, John Gordon, captured at Spottsyl- 
vania, 287 

Lee, Captain, 381 

Lee, General Custis, captured at 
Sailor's Creek, 429 

Lee, Edmund, 303 

Lee, General Fitzhugh, 231; at Appo- 
mattox, 430, 435-437 

Lee, " Light Horse Harry," 192 

Lee, General Robert E., 14; quoted, 24; 
at Antietam, 83, 84 ; tribute to Stone- 
wall Jackson, 98 ; modesty, 132 ; chief 
in command in Virginia, 135 ; apprecia- 
tion of privates, 136 ; crosses Potomac, 
137-140; Gettysburg, 154 et seq., 160; re- 
sponsibility for the defeat, 166-169; 
offers his resignation, 175, 176 ; opposes 
General Meade's army near the Rapi- 
dan, 188-191; opinion of newspapers, 
213 ; deep religious feelings, 231, 232 ; 
extracts from his letters, 231, 232 ; Wil- 
derness, May 5, 236-242; comments on 
the assault upon Sedgwick, 267; pre- 
dicts Grant's movement to Spottsyl- 
vania, 268-270; at Spottsylvania, 272, 
273, 278, 279 ; mourns General Stuart's 
death, 273; May 18, 289, 290; after Spott- 
sylvania, 290 et seq. ; Cold Harbor, 298 ; 
orders against destruction of private 
property, 305-308; character, 308, 309; 
plans to release prisoners at Point 
Lookout, 316; at Hatcher's Run, 379; 
favors enlistment of slaves, 382 ; in dire 
straits at Petersburg, 385-394, 422; 
orders to General Gordon, 397 ; consid- 
ers plan of assault on Fort Stedman, 
401-405 ; letter to General Gordon, 407 ; 
Five Forks, 417-419 ; orders retreat from 
Petersburg, 420, 423 ; orders movement 
toward Appomattox, 428; at Appo- 
mattox, 430, 433, 434, 437, 438 ; his calm 
bearing, 431 ; last council of war, 434- 
436; flag of truce with General Grant, 
438; surrenders at Appomattox, 443 et 
seq.; tribute by General Gordon, 458- 
460, 463 ; death, 464 

Lee, R. E., Jr., 422 

Lee, Stephen D., 124, 135 

Letcher, Governor, 303 

Lewis, General, 411 

Lincoln, Abraham, on slavery, 15; atti- 
tude toward the South, 450-452; assas- 
sination, 452 

Lloyd, Dick, 180 

Locke, Mr. James, 108 

" Logan's Slaughter Pen*" 186 

Lomax, General L. L., at Cedar Creek 

Lomax, Colonel Tennant, presentiment of 
his death, 60, 61 

Long, General A. L., 135; at Spottsylva- 
nia, 280 ; quoted on Spottsylvania, 281, 

Longstreet, Judge A. B., 93, 94 

Longstreet, General, 135, 160, 161; at 
Chickamauga, 205, 207, 209 ; Wilderness, 
May 6, 256; Appomattox, 435-437; sur- 
renders, 443, 452 

Lookout Mountain, the " Battle above the 
Clouds," 219 

Louis XV, quoted, 135 

Lovell, General, 31 

Luther, Martin, quoted, 292 

Lynchburg, 300 

Lytle, General, at Chickamauga, 208 

McCausland, General, at Monocacy, 310 

McClellan, General George B., 48 ; army 
lands at Yorktown, 52 ; Malvern Hill, 
67 ; restored to command, 81 ; mag- 
netism, 123 ; replaced by General Pope, 

McCook, General, at Chickamauga, 208 

McCulloch, General, 121, 454 

McDowell, General, at Bull Run, 37, 38, 123 

McDuffie, Mr., 93, 94 

Mcintosh, General, 454 

McKinley, William, tribute to, 446 

McLaughlin, General, captured at Fort 
Stedman, 410 

McNeill, Captain, 362 

Magruder, General, 52, 454 

Mahone, General, 135 ; at Appomattox, 

Malvern Hill, 72-85 

Manassas, 37 

Manderson, General, 221 

Manigault, General, at Chickamauga, 208 

Markoe, Captain, 398 

Marmaduke, General, 178; kills General 
Walker in a duel, 179 

Marshall, Colonel Charles, 420 

Marye's Heights, capture of fort on, 100 

Massanutten Mountain, 333, 334 

Maxey, General, 454 

Meade, General, 124 ; Gettysburg, 155, 158 ; 
characteristics, 159; after Gettysburg, 
174; resigns, 175; on the Rapidan, 188- 
191 ; Wilderness, 251 ; after Spottsylva- 
nia, 290, 291 ; meets General Lee at Appo- 
mattox, 443 

Memphis, 121 



Merrimac, frigate, converted into iron- 
clad, 122 

Merritt, General, 452 

Milroy, General, 68, 329 

Missionary Ridge, compared with Mara- 
thon, 217, 218 ; loss of by Confederates, 
223, 224 ; depressing effect on the South, 

Mississippi River, Confederates lose con- 
trol of, 181 

Monocacy, 309-313 

Monitor, ironclad, 122, 123 

Moore, , 220 

Moore, Governor of Alabama, 9 

Moore, Major, 398 

Mott, General, at Spottsylvania, 273 

Murfreesboro, 192, 193 

Negley, General, at Chickamauga, 206, 208 
Nelson, Major, anecdote, 222 
Nesinith, Major, death, 56 
Newbern, 122 
Nightingale, Florence, 414 

Oates, Colonel, wounded, 219 
Ord, General, 438, 439 

Pace, Captain J. M., 454 

Pace, Major, 398 

Paganini, 393 

Palmer, General, at Chickamauga, 205 

Patterson, General, 37 

Payne, General, at Cedar Creek, 338, 339 

Pea Ridge, 121 

Peck, General, 225 

Pegram, General, at Cedar Creek, 339 ; 
transferred to Petersburg, 374; death, 

Pemberton, General, 31 ; surrenders to 
General Grant at Vicksburg, 178, 182- 

Pendleton, General, 135 ; interview with 
General Lee, 433, 434 ; at Appomattox, 
435 ; at the formal surrender of Lee's 
army, 452 

Peters, Colonel W. E., 305 

Petersburg, 414 ; evacuation of, 420 

Pettigrew, General, 164 

Pettus, General, 220 

Peyton, Colonel Green, 438 

Pickett, General, 135 

Pike, General Albert, 121, 454 

Pike, Corporal, 223 

Point Lookout, 315, 316 

Polk, General L. E., at Chickamauga, 202 

Polk, General Leonidas, death, 79 ; char- 
acter, 79 

Pope, General John, 123 

Porter, General Horace, quoted on Wilder- 
ness, May 6, 251, 252, 257 ; on Spottsyl- 
vania, 269, 286, note ; on General Grant's 
order to Meade, 290 

Potomac, General Lee's reasons for cross- 
ing, 137-140 

Potter, Hon. Clarkson, 152 

Prentiss, General, at Helena, 181 

Preston, General, at Chickamauga, 205, 

Price, General Sterling, at Helena, 178, 

Putnam, General Israel, 349 

"Raccoon Roughs," 9; assigned to the 
Sixth Alabama, 13, 26 ; uniforms, 26, 27 

Ramseur, Major-General, 63; foresees his 
death, 64, 338 ; with Lee, 135 ; at Spott- 
sylvania, 280 ; Winchester, 320, 321; Cedar 
Creek, 338, 339 

Rapidan, fighting near, 189 

Religious enthusiasm in the Confederate 
Army, 229 et seq.; at Petersburg, 416, 417 

Rewalt, Mrs. L. L., 148-150 

Reynolds, General John F., death, 150 

Reynolds, General Joseph J., at Chicka- 
mauga, 205, 206 

Ringgold, 224 

Robinson, Dr. Stuart, 29 

Rodes, General, at Seven Pines, 56 ; with 
Lee, 135; at Spottsylvania, 280; near 
Washington, 314; Winchester, 320-322; 
death, 321 

Rosecrans, General, compels General 
Bragg to evacuate Chattanooga, 194- 
197; before Chickamauga, 200, 201; at 
Chickamauga, 201, 202, 208 ; ability, 212 ; 
removal, 225, 226 

Ross, General, 454 

Rosser, General, at Cedar Creek, 340, 346 ; 
quoted, 361 

Ruger, General, 164 

Russell, General, captures a redoubt, 190 

Ryan, Father, 286 

Ryan, Private Michael, 185 

Sailor's Creek, 429 
Saxe, Marshal, 129 
Scales, General, wounded at Gettysburg, 

Scipio Africanus, 308 
Scribner, General, at Chickamauga, 202 
Sedgwick, General, 190 ; Wilderness, May 

6, 246-250 
Seibles, Colonel, 26 
Semmes, General, at Gettysburg, 163 
Seven Pines, battle of, 55-58; burial of 

the dead, 70 



Seymour, General, Wilderness, May 6, 
249, 251 

Shaler, General, Wilderness, May 6, 249,251 

Sharpsburg. See Antietam 

Shelby, General Joe, at Helena, 178 ; ar- 
rested by General Holmes, 179, 180; 
death, 180 

Sheridan, General, at Chickainauga, 206 ; 
destroys Southern property, 303, 304 ; at 
Winchester, 319-322, 330; Fisher's Hill, 
326; after Fisher's Hill, 327-332; Cedar 
Creek, 342, 345, 346, 357, 358; forces at 
Cedar Creek, 343; after Cedar Creek, 
373 ; at Five Forks, 418 ; conference with 
General Gordon, 440-442 

Sherman, General W. T., relieves the 
fort at Altoona, 78; foresees the long 
struggle, 80 ; around Memphis, 124 ; lib- 
eral terms to General Johnston, 455; 
insulted by the War Department, 456 

Shields, General, 330 

Sickles, General Daniel E., 129 ; at Gettys- 
burg, 163 

Sigel, General, 302 

Slavery, its influence in starting the Civil 
War, 18, 19 

Smith, Kirby, General, 120, 454 

Smith, General Preston, killed at Chicka- 
mauga, 204 

Smith, General William, 155 

Snodgrass House, 208, 209 

South Side Railroad, 376, 377 

Southall, Captain S. V., quoted, 359 

Spottsylvania, 271-286 ; Hancock's as- 
sault, 274-276; Confederate counter- 
charge, 280 ; fight over the breastworks, 
282 ; heroism, 285 ; May 17, 289, 296 

Stanley, General, 209 

Stanton, Secretary of War, 190, 456 

Steedman, General, at Chickamauga, 209 

Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, Confed- 
erate Vice-President, 14 

Stephens, Mr., 384 

Steuart, General George, captured at 
Spottsylvania, 275 

Stevenson, Hon. A. E., quoted, 25 

Stewart, General A. P., at Chickamauga, 
202, 203, 205, 206 

Stuart, General " Jeb," 99, 135 ; at Gettys- 
burg, 170; at Buckland, 189; in the 
Wilderness, 269 ; killed at Yellow Tav- 
ern, Va., 273 

Swinton, William, quoted on Spottsyl- 
vania, 286, note 

Tanner, " Corporal," 130, 131 
Taylor, General Richard, surrenders, 454 ; 
conversation with General Grant, 462 

Taylor, Colonel Walter H., 155 

Tew, Colonel, death, 89 

Thomas, General George H., 31, 121, 123 ; 

at Chickamauga, 201, 207 ; Missionary 

Ridge, 223, 224 
Trimble, General, death, 164 
Troup, , quoted, 23 

Upton, General, captures redoubt, 190; 
wounded at Spottsylvania, 273 

Van Cleve, General, at Chickamauga, 206, 

208, 209 
Van Derveer, General, at Chickamauga, 

207, 209 
Van Dorn, General, 454 
Venable, Colonel C. S., at Appomattox, 

437 ; quoted, 438 
Vickers, Private, bravery and death, 66 
Vicksburg, chivalry at, 109 ; surrenders to 

General Grant, 178 ; explosion of tunnel, 

at Fort Hill, 184-186 
Vincent, General, 163 
Virginia, ironclad, 122, 123 
Virginia Military Institute, 302 
Voltaire, quoted, 137 

Walker, General, at Helena, 178; killed in 
duel by General Marmaduke, 179 

Walker, Hon. L. P., 17 

Walker, W. H. T., 126 ; death, 127 ; Chicka- 
mauga, 205 

Wallace, General Lew, at Monocacy, 309- 

Walthal, General E. C, 126 ; at Chicka- 
mauga, 202, 206 ; at Lookout Mountain, 
220, 221 

Warren, General, Gettysburg, 162 ; Spott- 
sylvania, 273 

Washburne, Hon. Elihu, 450 

Washington, threatened, 309, 314 

Watts, Hon. Thomas, 112 

Wauhatchie, 219 

Waul, General, 454 

Weatherly, Dr., 90 

Weed, General, 163 

Wharton, General, at Winchester, 322 ; 
Fisher's Hill, 326; Cedar Creek, 339; 
quoted, 361, 366 

Wheeler, General Joseph, 127 

White, Dr. H. A., quoted on the condition 
of the Confederate army at Petersburg, 

Whiting, General, at Malvern Hill, 72, 73 

Whiting, Major, 366 

Whittier, General C. A., quoted, 421, 422 

Wilcox, General, 135, 164 

Wilder, General, at Chickamauga, 206, 208 

474 INDEX 

Wilderness, battle of, May 5, 236-242; Wright, General, at Spottsylvania, May- 
battle of May 6, 243-261 ; losses, 262 ; 17, 289, 290 ; Cedar Creek, 344, 345 
result, 263 Wright, Gordon, 95 

Willard, Colonel, 163 Wrightsville, 143 

Williamson, General J. A., 225 

Willingham, Lieutenant-Colonel, death, Yorktown, McClellan's army lands at, 52 ; 

56 retreat of Confederate army, 52 

Wilmer, Captain, 398 ' Young, Hon. John Russell, quoted on the 

Winchester, 319-326 battle of Lookout Mountain, 219 

Winston, John R., quoted, 367 

Wise, General, anecdote, 434 Zollicoffer, General, 121 

Wood, General, at Chickamauga, 206, 209 Zook, General, 163 

No -^^- Sect._J> Shelf. 


Lincoln National Life Foundation 
Collateral Lincoln Library 

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